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Once quiet, now the leader of the pack

Edith Juarez Rodriquez filled her bucket list by creating memories for her peers

Godwin Heights — Senior Edith Juarez Rodriquez remembers what it was like to be the new student with no one to talk to. Four years ago, that was her.

“Now, when I’m in a random elective class with students from different grades, I have enough confidence to talk to people,” Edith said. “I know how it feels to be that lonely freshman because I was that person. So I try to go up and talk to you first because sometimes it is easier if someone starts the conversation.”

Edith began attending Godwin Heights High School as a freshman. She wanted to get involved, and started looking for a place where she could branch out.

She began with the theater program, which had mostly upperclassmen. They quickly took Edith under their wings. She helped out backstage and took on a few smaller roles. More importantly, the program and students helped Edith break out of her shell, encouraging her to try new things and to express her own thoughts and ideas.

Senior Edith Juarez Rodriquez said Godwin’s theater program helped her grow as a leader (courtesy)

From Acting to Action

 Edith didn’t miss a beat and put her name in for consideration when student council was short two freshman representatives.

“It sounded like something fun to do,” she said. “It also looked good on a college application; plus you got the opportunity to plan the things that people do.”

She learned a lot that year about organizing activities including Homecoming, the talent show and the lip-sync competition Mock Rock, which, in hindsight, was probably a good thing for both the school and students.

Fast forward to this year, following a year and half of events prevented by the pandemic, Edith was one of just a few members of the student council who had any experience or knowledge about Homecoming or Mock Rock. Partly for that reason, she was named president of the council and quickly rolled up her sleeves to get to work.

“For Homecoming, we selected an easy theme, Disney, to help people understand how the event works and what it is about,” Edith said.

Events such as Homecoming and prom are important to students because they create lifelong memories, said Edith, adding that her favorite memory was last year’s prom.

“It was outside and it was raining,” she said with a laugh. “It was an opportunity to send the seniors off and to be together as friends. We got to dress up and we got to experience something normal. Something that we hadn’t had in a really long time.”

Memories such as these are what inspired Edith to make this year’s Homecoming just as memorable.

”It makes me happy to plan these different events,” she said. “I enjoyed every last part of it, and I got to do everything on my bucket list.”

Edith also was elected president by her National Honor Society peers. While she has already exceeded the required 15 service hours, she has continued to volunteer, helping with weekly paper recycling, the monthly food truck, the blood drive, unpacking new Chromebooks for  the technology department and helping teachers with whatever they need.

“I have been so impressed with how much she has stepped up this year,” said math teacher and NHS advisor Pam Reeder. “She is a natural leader and someone to look up to in our school.”

Edith’s list of accomplishments doesn’t stop there, said math teacher Tracy Kraft. Edith is also a member of the G Club and the high school spirit club.

“Edith does this all while working part-time outside of school,” Kraft said. “She has always been on top of her academics as well. Edith is kind and friendly to everyone.”

Another student leader, senior Kevin Zube, put it simply, “Edith is amazing.”

Edith Juarez Rodriguez, left, with her family (courtesy)

Future Plans: Continue to Inspire

This fall, Edith will begin making new memories at Grand Valley State University, where she plans to pursue a psychology teaching major. 

“I was introduced to psychology in high school and I thought how cool it is,” Edith said. “I want to inspire other students to consider this field which is why I decided to become a teacher. If I am able to expand the field a little bit more, well that would be awesome.”

Because of the people she has met at Godwin and their continued support, Edith has never regretted her decision to walk through the doors and become a part of the Wolverine family. 

“They made me feel involved and appreciated me from the first day,” Edith said.

“I got to be with all the people I love and (who) will support me even after I graduate, and I am really excited to see where we all go after graduation.”

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Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma is a reporter covering Kent ISD, Godwin Heights, Kelloggsville, Forest Hills and Comstock Park. The salutatorian for the Hartland Public Schools 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. Joanne moved to the Grand Rapids area in 1989, where she started her journalism career at the Advance Newspapers. She later became the editor for On-the-Town magazine, a local arts and entertainment publication. Her eldest daughter is a nurse, working in Holland, and her youngest attends Oakland University. Both are graduates from Byron Center High School. She is a volunteer for the Van Singel Fine Arts Advisory Board and the Kent District Library. In her free time, Joanne enjoys spending time with her family, checking out local theater and keeping up with all the exchange students they have hosted through the years. Read Joanne's full bio


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