Inaugural Battle Born Youth ChalleNGe Academy class graduates

Inaugural Battle Born Youth ChalleNGe Academy class graduates
Nevada Guard Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Ondra Berry points out the graduation photographer to a Battle Born Youth ChalleNGe Academy student for a graduation photo Friday in Elko, Nev., during the graduation ceremony for the Class of 2021 Battle Born Youth Academy. Twenty-one students graduated from the residential phase of the academy on Friday; they are the first class to graduate from the program that just opened its campus in Carlin in February. Image: Staff Sgt. Walter Lowell, Nevada Army Guard

ELKO–Twenty-one cadets graduated Dec. 17 from the Battle Born Youth ChalleNGe Academy (BBYCA) in Elko according to Nevada National Guard officials. The students, a mix of girls and boys from across the state, completed the 22-week residential portion of the program and will transition to traditional high schools and the one-year mentorship phase of the program.

The BBYCA is a state- and National Guard-sponsored academy opened in February at the previous Elko County Readiness Center. The academy provides at-risk youth an opportunity to get back on track to earning a high school diploma or equivalency while learning self-discipline, leadership and responsibility. It is modeled after the nationwide National Guard Youth Challenge.

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.”

Youth ages 16-18 volunteer to participate in the program. Program participants are those who have either dropped out of high school or are not progressing in school, are unemployed or under-employed, and are drug-free and crime-free.

Of the 21 graduates, Schulman said two are on track to graduate with their peers in June 2022. The remainder—all younger students—will graduate on time with their peers in either 2023 or 2024 if they can remain on track.

Graduating students are:

  • James Adams, 16, Carson City
  • Imani Akmal, 17, Las Vegas
  • Wanda Arceneaux, 16, Las Vegas
  • Lukas Bluemel, 16, Spring Creek
  • Coral Brown, 17, Elko
  • Ezra Brown, 17, Battle Mountain
  • Fernando Castanon Lopez Jr., 19, Las Vegas
  • Madison Cotner, 17, Sun Valley
  • Chantal Cruz, 16, Elko
  • Joshua Douglass, 16, Reno
  • Randall Doxey, 16, Elko
  • Aaron Egloff, 17, Sparks
  • Lissete Martinez, 16, Sun Valley
  • Rolando Mendez-Portillo, 17, Las Vegas
  • Samuel Miley, 17, Spring Creek
  • Daniel Miranda Sanchez, 17, Henderson
  • Tristan-Chauncey Nakooka, 17, Las Vegas
  • Braxton Oros, 17, Elko
  • David Pena Solis, 17, Sparks
  • Christian Snell, 16, Tonopah
  • Adan Yanez, 16, North Las Vegas

The academy was established by a measure passed in the 2019 legislative session, which included $500,000 annual to operate the program. The program also receives an additional $1.5 million in annual federal funds.

The program can accommodate up to 55 students per semester and students must apply online. The academy is also recruiting community mentors. For more information call 775-684-9340 or go online to

Source: Nevada National Guard