CAYLA program celebrates a decade of youth leadership training

Asheville High senior shares how participation shaped her professional goals



Ten years after the creation of the City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy, Asheville City Council on May 9 recognized and congratulated this year’s outgoing class of CAYLA high school interns.

Founded in 2007 by former Mayor Terry Bellamy and the City Council, the program’s intention was two-fold:

  • Provide local high school students, most of whom would be first in their families to attend college, with paid summer internships that allow them to explore the variety of careers that Asheville offers.
  • Build a social network that could support the students throughout college and hopefully entice them to return to Asheville after graduation as young professionals.


Angelique Ayoade
Angelique Ayoade

Asheville High senior Angelique Ayoade said she found her experience in CAYLA “has been one of the most educational and beneficial experiences I have ever had.” Angelique spent last summer working as an intern at Asheville Community Theatre.

“Theater is my passion, so I was really grateful I was matched with ACT,” she said.

She also was exposed to the City’s Homeless Initiative, which proved to be been an even greater experience.

“As someone who has experienced homelessness, it was eye-opening to see what it would be like to work for a city government,” Angelique said. During her internship she was able to meet and interact “with the compassionate and committed people who work at City Hall.”

She saw firsthand how Asheville, Buncombe County and other the organizations in North Carolina form a network to address and help prevent homelessness.

“It inspired me to delve deeper and use the topic of homelessness, mental illness, and incarceration rates for my senior graduation project,” Angelique said. “The program has only furthered my ambitions to major in psychology and help people with mental illness.”

There are 25 CAYLA students in the 2016-17 class, all of whom attend Asheville High School or SILSA (School of Inquiry and Life Sciences at Asheville). Thirteen of the students are seniors, and all of them will be starting college this fall.

CAYLA students not only participate in internships at the City and local businesses, they also meet during the school year for service projects. For more information about CAYLA, visit the City of Asheville’s Youth Leadership Academy webpage.

Congratulations to this year’s CAYLA participants!