GHS sophomore heading to NYLF

Published 5:42 pm Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Finishing in second place in a national robotics competition last year prompted Greenville teacher William Champion to take note of sophomore Benjamin Gafford’s knowledge and skill set.

Gafford’s efforts at the robotics competition garnered him a nomination from Champion to represent GHS and the community at the 2015 National Youth Leadership Forum: Careers in Engineering & Technology, this summer in Boston, Mass.

Gafford will join other motivated students from around the country for an experiential leadership/exploration program, as he will attend several workshops focusing on different facets of engineering during the eight-day trip. He will also learn about the wide array of engineering and technology professions through the forum’s interactive curriculum, simulation exercises and skills development workshops. The forum is a part of an Envision program that’s being held on university campuses this summer.

Email newsletter signup

“I’m very excited about the trip,” Gafford said.

Champion nominated the sophomore because of his academic potential and interest in exploring a career related to engineering and technology.

Gafford said he took Champion’s robotics class before, adding that he played a big part in the competition.

Gafford’s participation on this trip depends on whether he can raise $2,500 ($2,595 is tuition for the program) in sponsorships. The trip’s tuition must be paid by May of this year.

“I am investing every dollar I can of my own money to make sure I don’t miss out on this unique experience, and am also taking on extra jobs to raise the funds I need,” he said.

In addition to being a student and working to get the funds needed to go on the trip, Gafford is in the Boy Scouts. He said he is just below the rank of Eagle, which is the highest rank a scout can attain.

Gafford is in many extra curricular activities at GHS, including Key Club, track team, Future Business Leaders of America, the scholars bowl, the Duke TIP University Program, honors society and the United States Achievement Academy.

“Through my family, friends and neighbors, I hope to have sponsors help me so I can one day return the favor by sponsoring another student at Greenville High School,” Gafford said.

For more information on the forum, visit

Gafford is the son of Melinda Ainsworth and Guy Gafford, both of Greenville.