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Former cadet moves forward with education without SC ChalleNGe Academy

16-year-old Patrick Higgins left the program with concerns of what would happen with his education. Now, he's found a path forward.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — It's been over a week since two fights broke out at the South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy, injuring 14 cadets and 1 employee.

Last week News19 spoke to Cadet Patrick Higgins, who decided to leave the program and was worried about how he could continue his education. Now, he's moving forward with the help of Midlands Tech.

"I was upset because this was a really good program, and I wanted to stay in it and stick it through Higgins said. "However, like I said before, I didn't feel safe, you know, and that's a big thing ... if I'm not safe I can't be there."

Higgins was in the Jobs Challenge Program and would take a bus to Midlands Tech to take his one course in welding. When his family decided he shouldn't return to the program, they worried he wouldn't be able to continue welding class. Now, they've found a way to get him in a course he doesn't have to pay for, and that allows him to follow his dream.

"I really love that Midlands Tech has been amazing so far, and they just kinda talked to me about my plans as a career," Higgins said.

In the old program, he would only be completing one class. With this opportunity, he will be able to complete stick, MIG, and TIG welding.

In a statement, Midlands Tech said: "The student is eligible for quick jobs funds because he had already completed high school equivalency through South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy. We happened to have a seat open in a welding class that just started, so we were able to get him into it. It's what we do day in and day out -- work with individual learners to find paths toward their own success and get them on that path as quickly as possible."

As for what's next, Higgins says once he completes the classes, he will apply for a job in welding, and he looks forward to moving on.

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