DAVENPORT, Iowa -- Jim Coffman, director, G-4 (Logistics), U.S. Army Sustainment Command, spoke with 17 freshmen in the Advanced Via Individual Development (AVID) program at Davenport Central High School, Sept. 28.

Coffman encouraged the students to learn the language of business, and to carry themselves professionally. He also encouraged students to be environmentally aware, to find mentorship, and to avoid poor decisions like using drugs.

"At 18, you are going to make decisions to set yourself up favorably to move on or you're not. It's that simple," he said.

According to its website, AVID is a global nonprofit organization that attempts to prepare students for college by holding them accountable to high academic standards and by providing them with the support systems they need to be successful. This is the first year AVID has been offered at Central.

Maureen Rauch, an AVID teacher, said the program focuses mainly on students with a lot of potential, but who also have life challenges that can make their journey more difficult like the loss of a parent, low income or medical conditions.

Coffman talked about his experiences as the sixth child of a low-income single-parent family who struggled to pay for college, joined the military and eventually worked his way up to become the director of G-4 (Logistics) in ASC.

"At the end of the day, it's really about you and whether you choose to make a difference or not," said Coffman.

Rauch said she thinks her students benefited from the discussion.

"They'll be able to tell you that you need to recognize your situation and make an effort to change it," she said.

Rauch also said she thinks Coffman made a strong connection with the students.

"I think they will remember that even though he didn't have a father, his mother was not around, he had lots of brothers and sisters, he had that drive -- he did make it," she said. "It didn't happen all at once, but he continued to work at it."