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Three-dimensional thinker

Meet the Future: Aria Sanford

Name: Aria Sanford
School: Comstock Park High School/Kent Career Tech Center
Jam: Architecture

Kent ISD—Comstock Park High School senior Aria Sanford likes to solve problems. So when classmate Kari Kroll mentioned that her family wanted to turn a pole barn into an apartment, Aria got to work on a design.

“Aria is a standout student for her natural ability to think three-dimensionally as she is designing her architectural projects,” said Larry Ridley, instructor for the Kent Career Tech Center’s engineering & architectural design program

“Her natural attention to detail is also a beneficial characteristic, as architecture requires that strict adherence to every little thing to make a project turn out functionally and beautifully. She was a rare student who was sketching and drawing her own ideas as soon as she entered the class as a junior, something I usually have to push students to brainstorm and express their conceptual planning.”

Aria said she was not sure what to expect when she first walked into Ridley’s classroom. What she found was a passion for architecture, which she plans to use to help others, especially women, pursue their dreams. She plans to start at Grand Rapids Community College in the fall, with hopes to eventually study architecture at Southfield’s Lawrence Technological University. 

How long have you had this interest and how has it made a difference in your life up until now? “I have always wondered how certain buildings came to be and the process behind it. Now that I have had the chance to go to the Kent Career Tech Center, it has further expanded my knowledge and captured my interest to continue working on it beyond high school. Architecture has made a difference in my life by giving me something to work toward.” 

A few related accomplishments: “…designed my own dream home, a small cottage, a roof truss, a small realistic home and several others. Most recently I completed my entry into the National Association of Women in Construction project.”

Is there a teacher or teachers who have had a big impact? Tech Center teacher Larry Ridley. “Before I came to his class, I had little to no knowledge on the subject but, throughout the years, he has taught me so many things that continue to amaze me. He introduced me to architecture through history, which, through studying, is helping to form my designs and will continue to.”

Envision yourself 10/20 years from now: “I hope to be finishing school and starting to build toward owning my own business to help the less fortunate have the homes they need as well.” 

The biggest lesson you have learned from your involvement in design is… “One of the biggest is how to utilize the space you have while meeting the needs of a customer. This can be a very hard thing to do, but once you learn how to do it correctly it becomes a skill that helps you make the best designs you could possibly think of.”

Other interests: “I have always loved drawing and nature.”

If you walked into your school building to theme music, what would the song be? “Run the World” by Beyonce. I have chosen a field that is mostly male dominated, and would like to encourage other young women to live up to their dreams no matter what they are.”

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Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma covers Kent ISD and Godwin Heights. She was born in the Detroit area but grew up in Brighton where she attended Hartland Public Schools. The salutatorian for the Class of 1985, she changed her colors from blue and maize to green and white by attending Michigan State University, where she majored in journalism and minored in photography and German. She expanded her color palette to include orange and black as both her daughters graduated from Byron Center Public Schools; maroon and white for Aquinas College where her daughter studies nursing and also brought back blue and maize for Grand Rapids Community College where her youngest daughter currently is studying music. Read Joanne's full bio


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