CORUNNA — Jaylee Carpenter was only 13 when she walked into a classroom at Lansing Community College for the first time.

“It was probably the most scared I’ve been in my entire life,” she said. “I sat in back and didn’t say a word.”

It was the summer after eighth grade, and Carpenter was taking a course at LCC on a probationary basis. She eventually made friends, which helped her open up. She landed an “A,” and kept taking more classes.

Today, the senior at Corunna High School holds an associate’s degree in sociology from LCC.

“I’m very excited about it,” Carpenter said. “I feel it’s an extra head start. It’s nice to think about it, and know I have it done and over with.”

She’s still only 16, having completed kindergarten and first grade in the same year. She has attended Corunna schools since second grade.

“A lot of people are nicer here than in other schools, more accepting,” Carpenter said.

She had a 4.21 GPA as of fall. She belongs to the school’s National Honor Society and was named a Shiawassee Scholar.

“Jaylee is extremely dedicated to her studies,” said Amy Murphy, CHS guidance counselor and student council adviser.

Carpenter has applied to a number of colleges and is thinking seriously about going to Michigan State University next year, but her college pick “changes a lot,” she said.

In any case, she wants to take a pre-med program in college with a view to becoming an orthopedic surgeon.

She said the son of her mother’s boss is an orthopedic surgeon, and she has had a few opportunities to discuss his career with him.

“I thought what he did was so cool,” Carpenter said.

Her mother, Heather Scarlett, is her role model.

“I really do admire my mom. She does a lot for our family,” Carpenter said, adding with a chuckle, “She’s dealt with me for 16 years.”

Carpenter is also an accomplished athlete. She started playing soccer at age 2, and played youth soccer through the Shiawassee Family YMCA.

Currently, she plays club soccer for the Lansing-based Capital Area Nationals in the Michigan State Premier Soccer League.

“When I’m on the field, I feel I’m happiest,” Carpenter said. “I get excited about any game or even practice.”

She also ran cross country for CHS.

“On top of her academic pursuits, Jaylee is an all-star athlete and valued team member,” Murphy said.

Carpenter named Bryan Heid, a math instructor at CHS, as her all-time favorite teacher.

“I love his teaching style,” she said. “He gets into the concepts, into why things happen. I get a lot out of his classes, and he’s been supportive of me over the years.”

For fun, Carpenter said she enjoys reading novels and listening to pop music from the 1980s.

She works two jobs, at Main Street Pizza and with the child care staff at the Shiawassee Family YMCA, in order to save money for college.

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