The future is Jaeylin. While the name her mother invented doesn’t have an official meaning, Jaeylin Snyder plans to create that meaning for herself.
“I’ve always tried to reimagine what that word means. It’s what you make of it,” Snyder said. “The future is Jaeylin.”
This senior at Spokane’s On Track Academy presents herself as a confident, driven young woman who often can be found reading, crocheting and working at Home Depot. At 18, Snyder has overcome many challenges and openly speaks of her post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder and autism.
While she has felt like an outcast in the past, she fits in well at On Track.
“She is intuitive, empathic, and has a sixth sense that is so timely – she exercises these gifts to help others at just the right moment,” said Lisa Mattson, On Track’s principal. “She is wise beyond her years. She has strong boundaries that support her success and expand her service to others. She is delightful, compassionate, and an all-around superstar of a human being!”
On Track, a part of Spokane Public Schools, specializes in providing personalized education where students have a dedicated adviser who helps develop learning plans that are geared toward them.
Snyder’s path to graduation was winding. “I bounced around a lot, had a lot of bullying issues,” she said.
She was a highly intelligent child, so in eighth grade she took a few classes through On Track for which she received high school credit. She later attended Gonzaga Preparatory School and Rogers High School but left each due to bullying, which included having her books strewn across the hall and a football thrown at her face.
“The bullying thing, it affected me bad, but it wasn’t where I let it hinder me. I would just move. I wouldn’t take it,” she said.
Part of the negative attention came from the fact that she was a sexual abuse survivor, and her case was on the news. The bullying contributed to her depression and anger issues. In one instance, she punched a door and broke her hand.
Eventually, she returned to On Track Academy.
“If I didn’t go into On Track, I would have dropped out,” she said. “I’ve really thrived.”
She credits her success to the individualized program and the attention and energy of the teachers.
Said teacher Jennifer Perrizo: “Jaeylin has a sharp mind, natural curiosity, and an infinite amount of passion. Her eagerness to learn and succeed, coupled with organization and dependability, have been key components to Jaeylin’s great success at On Track. She is also a skilled communicator, speaking confidently and writing eloquently.”
Perrizo highlighted Snyder’s “delightful” personality, positive attitude, and strong desire to help others.
“Earlier this year, Jaeylin took a class project and turned it into a community project. She spearheaded and executed a clothing and supplies drive for our local Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery. She collected a large number of supplies for the nursery, including dozens of clothing pieces that she hand-knitted,” Perrizo said.
In addition to On Track, Snyder attributes her success to her mother.
“My mom is a big factor in my education. Without her, I would have dropped out in second grade,” she said. “In a way, she taught me with her mistakes. … No matter what path you decide to go on, you can bring yourself out of it.”
After graduation, Snyder plans to attend Pacific Lutheran University, where she has received scholarships, and she wants to study communications and film media. She desires to make documentary films about social issues, like the experience of being a black woman, gender, and race relations.
“Black women make 65% of the white man’s dollar. I think that’s just bogus,” she said. “I also really want to give women a voice.”
Snyder was diagnosed with autism in recent years.
“My autism diagnosis changed my life. It made sense. … I was always so smart for my own good,” she said, adding that she felt socially awkward and didn’t know how to appropriately communicate that smartness.
Her message to other students: “Being weird’s OK. Sometimes being weird gets you farther than being normal does.”
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