by LIZ ONUFER | photos by Samantha Gleaton Photography

Rewriting His Story

student_sanchez1Joel Sanchez’s story could have ended very differently. Today a senior at Rancho Buena Vista High School, Joel’s path to graduation has not been the smoothest. But with the right influences, a solid support system, and the drive to turn it all around, Joel Sanchez is celebrating as Vista’s Student Star.

“When I left Rancho at the end of my sophomore year, I wasn’t in the best position to graduate,” Joel shared. “I was missing around 35 to 40 credits, which is nearly a year’s worth.” Despite consistent efforts by his counselor, Ms. Fellars, Jose was falling further behind. “I never really cared to listen to her but what she did was put me onto a course that eventually led me to where I am today, and I owe her for that,” Joel acknowledged.

That course involved transferring to Major General Raymond Murray High School, a continuation school in Vista. There, Joel received the support he needed to recover lost credits and make important connections, in particular Principal Hoover and teacher Adalberto Marta. He also had the opportunity to participate in a mock trial program, a deciding factor in his future career path. “What I really enjoyed about the program was that it helped me realize my true goals for the future, career wise,” Joel shared. “After we won our first round I enjoyed that feeling and I knew I could apply it elsewhere.” Thanks to an introduction by Principal Hoover, Joel now applies what he learned from the mock trial experience to his internship at the Law Offices of Jeffrey T. Vanderveen.

Name: Joel Sanchez Tapia (17)
School: Rancho Buena Vista High School
Grade: 12
Family: Parents – Angel and Esmirna; Sibling – Yezer
Favorite Place in 92081: Ohana Hawaiian BBQ


Today, back at Rancho Buena Vista High School, Joel is on the path to success and sharing his experience to help others. “Soon after my senior year began, Ms. Fellers asked me to talk in front of students and share my experiences with them,” Joel said. New doors are opening for Joel, and he understands the importance of these relationships. “Hopefully, I earned some new connections for future references,” he commented. Those will be a great asset as Joel pursues his goals to attend a four-year university and go to law school.

But even more important than his academic connections are his family connections. “When I come home every day I know that I’m coming home to a family that’s proud of my accomplishments. The majority of the things I accomplish are for my parents so that they can be proud of their son.”