Young Leaders' Academy Alumni

From working for Chevron Corps in California to attending Syracruse University in New York, our alumni are emerging leaders nationwide. Other alumni are taking advantage of the opportunities here in Louisiana, including with YLA supporters Chase bank, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, LSU, and the Baton Rouge Fire Department


Alumni Spotlight: Will Cotchery


Will Cotchery II began his journey at the Young Leaders’ Academy with Group VIII in January, 2003. He graduated YLA in the summer of 2008, receiving the Spirit of the Academy Award due to his service and leadership qualities.

Upon graduating from YLA, Will began his freshman year at Catholic High School. Four years later, he graduated from Catholic as one of 17 recipients of the Man of the Year Award. Will was selected from 227 graduating seniors by votes of administrators, faculty members and staff. In addition to this honor, he assisted Bishop Robert Muench during graduation exercises.

Other past awards include the Pelican State Credit Union Internal Scholarship and the Louis A. Martinet Society Scholarship. He has been an avid participant in community service events and is the definition of volunteerism.

Through The Young Leaders Academy, Will has learned the true meaning of giving back and being your brother’s keeper…”Never look down on anyone unless you’re helping them up.” 

He will attend Louisiana State University in the fall of 2012 as a Mass Communication major. He plans to become a Sports Analyst.

Pictured: Will Cotchery with his mother, Melanie Dupard

From YLA to the World

Raphael Richard, Jr.


Raphael Richard, Jr. began his journey at the Young Leaders’ Academy in its charter year in 1993. He graduated YLA in 2000 and continued his education at McKinley Senior High School in Baton Rouge.

“One of the first things that the academy prepared me for was to be in leadership positions and perform community service,” said Richard, “and I think I was able to do those things because I was also academically prepared. I was getting extra attention outside the classroom and performing well inside the classroom.”

Upon graduating from McKinley, Richard made the move to New Orleans to attend Dillard University, majoring in Urban Studies and Public Policy. He then moved to Syracuse, New York to begin his graduate studies at Syracuse University. He obtained his Master’s degree of higher education and administration in May, 2012, with a certificate of advanced study in disability studies.

“The academy afforded me opportunities to talk about race and diversity and what it means to be a young black male,” said Richard. “I was having those conversations early in life, and I think that helped me later when I wanted to focus on diversity issues in my studies.”

While obtaining his Master’s, Richard worked in the Office of Multicultural Affairs at Syracuse University as a Diversity Education Specialist for three years. He then traveled back to his roots in Baton Rouge to teach at our very own Young Leaders’ Academy.

“One thing I want them to learn is what it means to be a young black man in our society,” said Richard. “I want them to discover who they are and how their identity relates to other things, such as their community and school. Figuring out who they are now can help them decide who they want to become.”

Richard’s interest and specialty in diversity issues has shaped minds around the country, and he continues to share his expertise. His next journey takes him to Birmingham, Alabama, where he is the new Coordinator of Multicultural Diversity Programs at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. He will work in the Office of Student Involvement, planning Community Week, advising international students and working with the UAB Multicultural Council among many other tasks.

The Young Leaders’ Academy is proud to call Richard alumni. His success and continued interest is a great example for young boys in the Academy as well as students across the nation.