Battle Born Youth ChalleNGe Academy Graduates

BBYCA XMASBy Staff Sgt. Walter Lowell

106th Public Affairs Detachment  


ELKO – The inaugural class of students in the Battle Born Youth ChalleNGe Academy made Nevada history after 21 cadets graduated from the residential phase of the program Friday during a ceremony at the Elko Convention Center. All 21 students completed the rigorous 22-week residential portion of the program and are transitioning to the one-year mentorship phase of the program as they return to their respective local, traditional high schools.

Opened just last February, the Battle Born Youth ChallenNGe Academy is the state- and Nevada Guard-sponsored educational academy participating in the overarching National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program. It is a preventive rather than remedial at-risk youth program that includes voluntary participants 16-18 years of age who have dropped out of school or are not satisfactorily progressing academically, are unemployed or under employed, drug-free, and crime-free.

Program director Lauren Schulman said the first class of BBYCA students proved to be “phenomenal.”

“This class established a standard of excellence that all future classes will aspire to match,” Schulman said. “The students all made a remarkable journey from compliance to self-reliance.”

Schulman said two of the 21 students are now back on track to graduate with their local Class of 2022 peers in June. The 19 younger students who completed the residential phase also made enough academic progress to graduate on time with the Classes of 2023 and 2024 if they continue to accrue credits as scheduled.

The class worked on far more than just academics during the fall semester; Schulman said each student recorded at least 40 hours of service to the Elko County community last autumn, including work in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management and the California Trail Interpretative Center.

The graduation of the students from the residential phase of BBYCA marked the realization of a dream come true for Nevada Guard officials, state legislators and educators, and BBYCA supporters across the Silver State. The idea of the Battle Born Youth Challenge Academy was brought to light by Heather Golding and Grace Nichols of Reno in 2016 when they inquired with former Adjutant General retired Brig. Gen. Bill Burks about the possibility of the National Guard’s regimented Youth ChalleNGe Program expanding to the Silver State.

The measure to establish the BBYCA was passed by the legislature in 2019. The academy received $500,000 annually from the 2019 legislature and it also receives about $1.5 million annually in federal funds.

The previous Elko County Readiness Center, which previously housed one detachment the 593rd Transportation Company, serves as the site for the campus for the BBYCA.

Schulman said the BBYCA could accommodate 55 students during the upcoming Spring 2022 semester and the program was accepting applications. She also encouraged anyone interested in developing the future leaders of Nevada to apply for a cadre position.

The Battle Born Youth ChalleNGe Academy graduating Class of 2021 included (with age and hometown): Adams, James, 16, Carson City; Akmal, Imani, 17, Las Vegas; Arceneaux, Wanda, 16, Las Vegas; Bluemel, Lukas, 16, Spring Creek; Brown, Coral, 17, Elko; Brown, Ezra, 17, Battle Mountain; Castanon Lopez Jr., Fernando, 19, Las Vegas; Cotner, Madison, 17, Sun Valley; Cruz, Chantal, 16, Elko; Douglass, Joshua, 16, Reno; Doxey, Randall, 16, Elko; Egloff, Aaron, 17, Sparks; Martinez, Lissete, 16, Sun Valley; Mendez-Portillo, Rolando, 17, Las Vegas; Miley, Samuel, 17, Spring Creek; Miranda Sanchez, Daniel, 17, Henderson; Nakooka, Tristan-Chauncey, 17, Las Vegas; Oros, Braxton, 17, Elko; Pena Solis, David, 17, Sparks; Snell, Christian, 16, Tonopah; and Yanez, Adan, 16, N. Las Vegas.

For detailed information on the academy and the application process, call 775-684-9340 or visit