Dec 13, 2021
Youth Challenge Academy holds program commencement and awards high school diplomas
IRVINE, Calif. – Geographically speaking, Sunburst Youth Challenge Academy is only 124 miles from the city of Indio, but it's a lifetime away from the experiences 17-year-old Melanie Cisneros walked away from over the summer.
"I was introduced to Sunburst at a time in my life when I wasn’t doing too well," Cisneros said Friday during a graduation ceremony in Irvine for the academy's 28th class.
"I started failing all my classes in school due to the poor decisions I was making," she said. "I surrounded myself with the wrong crowd and did things I know I shouldn’t have been doing."
Eventually, she hit a breaking point.
"I hit rock bottom emotionally," Cisneros told the audience. "I remember sitting at home thinking to myself, 'Damn, do I really want to keep feeling this way?'"
Cisneros and more than a hundred other teens found their way to Joint Forces Training Base, Los Alamitos, in early July...
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