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Paducah Teen Recognized as 2017 Challenger Champion

Published on May 19, 2017

WKCTC MEDIA RELEASE: PADUCAH, KY (05/19/2017) Paducah's Taylor Young was recognized as the 2017 Challenger Champion during a reception in his honor May 18 at the Challenger Learning Center at Paducah on the campus of West Kentucky Community and Technical College.

The idea for Challenger Champions was created three years ago to honor outstanding individuals like Young who have attended the program during their childhood and then gone on to support the center as they got older. Challenger Champions also choose a career with a focus either in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) - disciplines that are promoted and taught through the Challenger Learning Center (CLC).

Young began visiting the center when he was in the first grade when he attended his first of many summer camps.

"I remember wanting to go to that first camp because I thought science is cool, and I still feel that way today," said Young.

Through the summer camps and field trips he took with his fifth and sixth grade classes at Marshall County Middle School, Young said the center helped set him on his current path.

"The Challenger Learning Center gave me my first introduction into the math and science world. From that first summer camp, I realized my interest in these subjects, and that interest continues to this day," said the 18-year-old Young, who recently graduated from The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science on the campus of Western Kentucky University.

"The center helped put me on the on the advanced math track in elementary school; I also took AP math classes in high school; and I applied and was accepted to The Gatton Academy my junior and senior year," said Young, who will also graduate from Marshall County High School on May 27.

Last summer, CLC Director Mellisa Duncan contacted Young to see if he would be interested in taking a new step with the center by volunteering to help with summer camps.

"I was happy to do it. I enjoy working with kids, and it was important for me to give back to the center," Young said.

"We are proud to name Taylor as our 2017 Challenger Champion! Not only does he excel in the STEM areas, but he is hard worker, a great role model and a person with integrity. We can't wait to see what the future holds for him," said Duncan.

When asked about his biggest takeaway from his time at the Challenger Learning Center, Young said, "science is not about getting it right; it's about finding out how and why things work. You can learn as much from being wrong as you do from being right." This lesson has served him well in his everyday life.

"This year, I worked on chemistry research at The Gatton Academy, and in trying to get specific compounds, some things turned out wrong. This can become discouraging, but I learned to always keep trying from my parents, and from my time at the Challenger Learning Center."

The next step for Young is attending the University of Louisville this fall to study chemical engineering. "My family and the Challenger Learning Center helped shape who I was when I was a young kid, and who I will be in the future."

A new Challenger Champion will be honored each year as the CLC's version of a "Hall of Fame" continues to grow.

For more information, visit or call the Challenger Learning Center at (270) 534-3101.