Forty students from across Cooke County arrived at North Central Texas College in Gainesville Tuesday morning for the Cooke County Youth Leadership Camp (CCYLC), in the campus biology lab.
The camp, founded by Gloria Burgan in 2009, and co-sponsored by UNT Talent Search, was originally the Hispanic Youth Leadership Forum and has evolved to include students from all over Cooke County. Applications were provided to middle schools in Callisburg, Era, Gainesville, Lindsay, Muenster, Sivells Bend, Valley View and Walnut Bend, and students were accepted “first come, first serve.”
CCYLC will run through Friday afternoon, and will end with a hot dog roast and pool party Friday evening for campers and their families.
This year, campers are being treated to a variety of learning activities, including presentations from Gainesville Mayor Jim Goldsworthy, Gainesville ISD Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Brasher and NCTC Vice-President of Instruction Dr. Brent Wallace.
The students are touring NCTC, Texas Woman’s University and the University of North Texas, and attending workshops provided by different academic departments at NCTC. Careers in local government will also be featured prominently as participants will tour the police and fire departments, as well as the courthouse and North Texas Medical Center.
Several community partners help make CCYLC successful as the camp is non-profit, and donations are used to provide T-shirts, snacks and meals.
In addition, NCTC allows the camp to meet annually on its campus.
“We’re so thankful for all our sponsors,” said Maria Vega, who now organizes the event after the retirement of Burgan. “Every year, we seek donations to provide items for the kids, and our sponsors are always great about supporting the students here in Cooke County.”
Talent Search, a federally funded program that works with students to increase post-secondary educational success, has also worked closely with CCYLC since 2009. Lead Talent Advisor Sophilia McTyre believes their collaboration is mutually advantageous.
“The students come from different schools, but arrive with one purpose: to explore the benefits of postsecondary education,” McTyre said. “We’re excited to see the kids learn more about the various careers available to them.”
At NCTC, campers had the opportunity to visit several academic departments including nursing, biology, radiology, computer gaming, cosmetology, equine and horticulture. Students spent 30 minutes in each department, listening to NCTC instructors and experiencing first-hand what each department does.
In the nursing department, for example, campers visited the simulation lab where they were able to see the mannequins used to train nurses in real-life situations.
That was the favorite department for Gainesville Middle School eighth grader Joanna Rojas, who wants to be a nurse.
“The nursing was fun because they can take out blood and make (the simulation dummy) vomit and it can blink,” Rojas said.
The camp also included older group leaders, some of which are now in high school and others who are now NCTC students and serve as Lion Ambassadors.
Irma Oliva, a Gainesville High School graduate and current NCTC student, said the up-close-and-personal experience will enable campers to see the benefits of attending college at NCTC.
“It can help them because it shows them you don’t just go to school to do math or science,” Oliva said. “You can go to school to be a radiologist or cosmetologist or anything like that. It helps them become leaders because it shows them that they can come to school. Just like (Brasher) said today, it doesn’t matter where you come from, you can still be whatever you want to be.”
Photos from the camp can be found on the NCTC Facebook page.