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Promise Team Spotlight - Janell "Nelly" Smith

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Janell Smith

We are halfway through August and the start of a new school year is just a few weeks away. With that in mind, let’s continue our Promise Team Spotlight Series with Janell “Nelly” Smith, Associate Administrator for The Kalamazoo Promise (The Promise).

A former Promise Scholar, Smith attended Kalamazoo Public Schools from kindergarten through 12th grade, graduating from Loy Norrix High School in 2008. After graduation, Smith used The Promise to attend the University of Michigan where she was a member of the women’s basketball team.

Eventually, she transferred to Northwood University (NU), where a basketball scholarship helped her earn a degree in Business Administration. Although her scholarship paid for the entirety of her tuition while at NU, Smith is thankful for everything that The Promise has done for her.

“It’s been a full circle experience,” she said. “I was a freshman when The Promise was introduced, and I was in the first video made to thank donors.”

Smith is still thankful to those donors who helped her earn a degree and find a career path. She is proud to return to The Promise as a member of the staff that helps students who were once in her position.

“We’re trying to get graduates to come back to Kalamazoo, find jobs, raise their families, and utilize The Promise,” she explained.

As The Promise’s Associate Administrator, Smith processes acceptance forms, imports grades, processes invoices, updates The Promise’s database, and ensures that scholarships are administered properly.

“I’m a nerd!” she exclaimed when talking about her position. “I like numbers and working with challenges. I enjoy getting a complex invoice and having to figure out what is going on and how to process it.”

When she’s not crunching numbers for The Promise, Smith enjoys the peace and quiet of relaxing at home, visiting Airway Fun Center with family, and spending time with her friends at Shakespeare’s Pub.

Ultimately, Smith hopes to provide a friendly face to students and families who are trying to navigate The Promise for themselves.

“With my presence in the community, having grown up here and now working for The Promise, I am well known,” she said. “People come to me with questions and see me as a resource when accessing The Promise.”

Well put, Nelly! The Promise is thankful for all of your hard work and the familiarity you bring to Promise Scholars in their search for education.

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