By Sarrah Peters
Gadsden City High School student Braxton Bostick graduated this year with the opportunity to attend the National Youth Leadership Forum (NYLF) in Washington D.C. this summer.
The National Youth Leadership Forum consists of five different six-day retreats. Each retreat focuses on exploring different career fields including medicine, engineering and technology, media, law and crime scene investigation and national security. Hundreds of children from 13 to 18 years of age from across the nation attend the program every year. Students that attend may be eligible to receive college credit from the program.
From July 29 through August 3, Bostick will be attending the national security session, which will discuss diplomacy, intelligence and defense. The students will meet policy makers and experts in the field and visit foreign embassies, policy centers and military facilities. In addition to meeting experts in the field, students will attend a national security career fair where they will be able to meet one-on-one with officials from the National Security Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, the World Bank Group, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Department of State, the Peace Corps, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Marines, the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Coast Guard. The students will use the knowledge they have learned in the program to participate in a national security crisis simulation. During the simulation, students will work in teams taking roles in the media, intelligence, diplomacy, defense, legislative or executive branches to work together to resolve the crisis while receiving new information.
Bostick was nominated to attend the NYLF program by his government and economics teacher Dr. Roy Bliss. Bostick is the ninth GCHS student to attend a NYLF program since 2008.
“I felt it would be beneficial for Bostick as a citizen and our society if he could somehow attend this training and conference this summer,” said Bliss. “He is a very sharp young man, that I think sometimes he didn’t give himself credit for. I was hoping to accomplish a couple of things. One, give him this opportunity, and two, encourage him at the same time and let him know that he has the ability and skills to be successful in whatever capacity he chose.”
Bostick said that Bliss’s class was his highest grade and favorite class. Bliss tries to engage his students and accept their ideas.
“When you have folks that are as sharp as Braxton, it’s easy to get them engaged and then have conversations about government and economics,” said Bliss. “So it was easy to engage especially Braxton’s group and Braxton.”
This is not Bostick’s first journey to Washington D.C. He has been able to travel to Washington D.C. five times. He was able to travel with Wills Baptist Creek and Dr. Gertie Lowe to attend President Barack Obama’s first inauguration. He also traveled with his mother to attend Obama’s second inauguration. He has made trips to the nation’s capital with Gadsden State’s Upward Bound program and a human rights and LGBTQ activist group. This trip, he hopes to learn enough information about national and cyber security to be able to give local legislators more information on the topic.
Although excited to attend, the program is expensive. The tuition for the six-day retreat costs over $2500, and that does not cover air fare. In order to afford the trip, Bostick’s family is accepting donations. Gadsden City High School bookkeeper Reagan Lowe is assisting the family with raising contributions. Contributions can be sent to Lowe at GCHS.
Bliss has nominated students before but said that in his experience it was “very rare for a student to take advantage” of the programs.
“He has a desire to be able to go, and I have never had anybody embrace the nomination or have the capacity or ability to embrace the nomination like Braxton and his family have,” said Bliss.
In the meantime, the recently graduated Bostick is attending summer courses at Gadsden State. Thanks to his participation in Upward Bound, he received free tuition for one class. Bostick is planning to major in Communications with a concentration in broadcast media.