September 2021 Spotlight: Janai Belmonte

#YCproud of our Alumni

When Janai Belmonte found out she was a Dean’s Award winner for the College of Health and Human Services at Sacramento State, she didn’t know what to think. At first, she wasn’t even sure if it was real.

“Am I reading this right?” she asked. But it was. This award represented years of facing and overcoming academic challenges with persistence and enthusiasm that only Janai can possess, which came into focus while she was a student at Yuba College.

Janai was born in Yuba City and was raised in Live Oak. At an early age, she was diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder, making learning in a classroom setting much harder. Though she was bullied at times and felt lost, she persisted and graduated from high school.

Her academic journey brought her to Yuba College. She was immediately drawn to the library and one of her great passions, the soccer fields. At Yuba College, she was also diagnosed with dyslexia. She also discovered a suite of support and resources to help her navigate this new academic landscape. For Janai, the faculty and staff support from Yuba College gave her a new level of confidence and determination.

“When I think of ‘my family,’” Janai said. “I include everyone who supported me along this journey, especially the faculty and staff at Yuba College who believed in me. I needed to start somewhere, and they gave me the right tools to keep moving forward.”

Janai graduated from Yuba College in 2017. In 2018, she transferred to Sacramento State to pursue her Recreation and Parks Management degree, emphasizing Community Recreation. Through her challenges, Janai graduated magna cum laude at the top of her class. Janai plans someday to pursue her master’s degree in recreation administration. She wants to help provide support and create connections to recreation activities.

“I want to help everyone with sports, arts and crafts, reading, everything and help them feel included and that they belong,” Janai said. “I want to give back what I was given.”