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‘You can do anything and everything’

Your Dream is Our Dream: Janelly Sanchez-Puentes

Godfrey-Lee — Janelly Sanchez-Puentes said she manages her academic, athletic and work commitments in her planner notebook, with all due dates written in red. 

The busy senior at Lee High School plays trumpet in the concert band, led the marching band as drum major in the fall, joined the wrestling team this past winter, and plays soccer in the spring, following months of indoor club soccer. 

Senior Janelly Sanchez-Puentes plays on the Lee High School soccer team in the spring and club soccer in the winter (courtesy)

“Soccer is my family’s sport,” she said. “My mom, (and) older and younger brother come to everything and support me. They even want to make T-shirts for my last (high school) soccer season.” 

Janelly said her mom was initially not the biggest fan of her joining the wrestling team, but since it was her senior year, she showed up at meets as her daughter’s biggest fan.

“Wrestling was the most physical sport I’ve ever tried,” Janelly said. “It’s a lot more mental. I made myself mad to get more aggressive to compete against guys. It was also therapy.” 

Senior Janelly Sanchez-Puentes, second from left, with her mom and two brothers at the final wrestling meet of her senior year (courtesy)

Janelly is also dual-enrolled at Grand Rapids Community College and serves as one of two Lee High School representatives on Kent ISD’s Student Leadership Community. Last fall, she shared her thoughts on education and plans for college as a student panelist at the second annual Listen. Learn. Lead. State of the Student event.

Rooted in a life-long passion for how things work, Janelly currently is an intern at Steelcase, an opportunity she discovered through Kent Career Tech Center’s engineering program, and plans to pursue mechanical engineering in college next fall. 

‘We’re not just a school; it’s a community and family.’

— Janelly Sanchez-Puentes, Lee High School senior

What is your dream? “I hope to be a mechanical engineer in the automotive aerospace industry.” 

How do you plan to pursue your dream after graduation? “I like to plan ahead: I researched Michigan’s top engineering programs when I was in eighth grade. … I applied and got accepted to the University of Michigan and Michigan Technological University for next year.”  

How has your school and teachers helped you work toward achieving your dream? “My physics teacher, Melissa Donovan, is sweet and very supportive of people who want to go into engineering. Everyone at Lee has been so supportive. It’s different here. We’re not just a school; it’s a community and family.” 

Senior Janelly Sanchez-Puentes leads the Lee High School marching band as senior drum major (courtesy)

How has the Kent Career Tech Center’s engineering program helped with your dream? “KCTC has prepared me to implement things I’ve learned in college and on the job. … I’ve been able to learn more about programming, coding and auto CAD 2D and 3D programs that actual companies use. I’m getting certified in OSHA 10, getting experience and they’ve given me the opportunity for the internships.” 

How has your family supported your dream? “My mom drives and motivates me. She came to this country for a better opportunity. I want to get ahead of everyone else, but I’ll have the experience and leadership to get ahead of them. I want to buy my mom a house and a car. Anytime I’m struggling or think I can’t do this or I’m anxious, she says ‘You know your dad would be proud.’ He passed when I was little.” 

What advice would you give your younger self? “It’s not as hard as it looks. You can do anything and everything, and if you fail it’s only because you didn’t try hard enough.” 

Read more from Godfrey-Lee: 
Gates scholarship semi-finalist credits parents as inspiration
Mercado Español offers lesson in economics

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Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark is a reporter covering Byron Center, Caledonia, Godfrey-Lee, Kenowa Hills and Thornapple Kellogg. She grew up in metro Detroit and her journalism journey brought her west to Grand Rapids via Michigan State University where she covered features and campus news for The State News. She also co-authored three 100-question guides to increase understanding and awareness of various human identities, through the MSU School of Journalism. Following graduation, she worked as a beat reporter for The Ann Arbor News, covering stories on education, community, prison arts and poetry, before finding her calling in education reporting and landing at SNN. Alexis is also the author of a poetry chapbook, “Learning to Sleep in the Middle of the Bed.”


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