Alumni Spotlight: Lesly Sanchez

Lesly SanchezLesly celebrating her graduation from Hunter College

When Lesly Sanchez arrived in New York from Honduras in 2013, she was excited to begin exploring new opportunities. A friend pointed her towards Manhattan Comprehensive Day & Night High School, where she learned that she’d be able to work on her English, get help obtaining her residency, and finish high school. It was a move that would have lasting impact.

Lesly came to MCNDHS speaking only Spanish, and like many other immigrant students, she struggled with finding a voice in her adopted country. “I didn’t speak at first, I didn’t advocate for myself, I didn’t even know who my guidance counselor was. I had to repeat classes because I didn’t bring my foreign transcript, which would have shown my previous record. It could’ve been different if I had tried to translate, but I talked to people who only spoke Spanish, so I wasn’t practicing my English for a year and a half. You don’t develop the speaking abilities until you are forced to,” she describes when remembering her early months at MCNDHS. After connecting with CYD counselors Gladys Franceschi and Hattie Hill, Lesly became more confident in using her language skills and was able to take control of her studies and goals.

Her relationship with CYD staff played a vital role in shaping her own interests, which began leaning towards teaching and law. Following an internship with the Legal Aid Society, Lesly became a student aid at MCNDHS in 2017, a position she maintains to this day. “I had such a good experience with the people there, I felt inspired to work there and build on that work. The staff leaves a lasting impression. Caring, compassionate, comprehensive; those are all qualities that stay behind even when your time at school is done. It’s rewarding,” says Lesly. Her ultimate goal lies in practicing law, where she hopes to help other immigrants like her. “I want to practice law so that I can give back to the community. There will always be immigrants from all over the world, and there will always be a need for legal help.”

Lesly graduated from MCNDHS in 2016. She received her AA from Bronx Community College, where she was both and Honors Scholar and on the President’s List, and then received her BA from Hunter College, where she was on the Dean’s List at Hunter College. Lesly is currently enrolled in a graduate program at Hunter College for an advanced bilingual certification, and is awaiting her teaching certification. She has hopes of attending law school in the coming years as well.

“Lesly is a great example of what can happen when motivation and drive meet opportunity,” says Gladys. CYD’s impact is still felt today, as Lesly explains, “I appreciated the more personal connection that I had with CYD staff and support they gave me. As an immigrant family, it was hard to make our way. You have dreams and goals, but you don’t always know how far you can go. CYD helped me see my own potential.”

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