Shirole represents Natick as Project 351 Ambassador
By Theresa Knapp
Natick Middle School student Sejal Shirole is this year’s Project 351 Ambassador.
Shirole, age 14, first heard about the program from her school counselor last fall, but she knew right away she wanted to accept the nomination.
“I wanted to participate mainly because I’m passionate about helping people and I love community service,” says Shirole. “I was quite surprised when I found out I was chosen and it was indeed a ‘wow’ moment; I kept on thinking to myself, ‘Wow, I got chosen out of every single eighth grader in Natick!’ and that motivated me to grab at this wonderful opportunity.”
Project 351 was started in 2011 by then-Governor Deval Patrick as a way to focus on the potential of the youth in Massachusetts. The statewide project taps 8th grade students who can be described as “unsung heroes and quiet leaders” from all 351 municipalities in the Commonwealth.
When asked why she thought she was chosen, Shirole says, “I thought it was because I didn’t talk a lot and was a good student, but now that I think about it, it might have been because I had demonstrated kindness, honesty, sincerity, treating others nicely, and had the potential to guide a group in the right direction. I am also very resilient and tenacious which allows me to get things done, which is a valuable characteristic of a leader.”
She was correct.
Wilson Middle School Counselor Kimberly Lowell said, “Sejal was nominated to be this year’s Project 351 Ambassador because, although soft spoken, she is a positive influence in all of her classes. Her teachers report that she holds herself accountable to achieve high academic success. She is kind and respectful to all of her classmates. She listens to others and respects her classmates and their differences. What sets Sejal apart from others is her flexibility and willingness to work with all students in the classroom. Sejal will work with students of all different learning abilities in an inclusion classroom setting. Sejal makes her classmates feel valuable and important.”
Shirole describes herself as very shy. “I don’t really like to talk to a lot of people I don’t know, however, if you were to talk to my friends and family, they would be quite surprised that I endure that personality outside of friend groups. I am hard working and sincere. My grades are good and I’m proud of them. Lastly, I am someone who stresses a lot. I think that quality is what drives my determination and perseverance and propels me to get things over with, but it’s not something I’m too proud of because it has me worried all the time.”
So far in the program, Shirole has completed the Spring Service clothing drive at Wilson Middle School to benefit Cradles to Crayons, and the next community project was for for Earth Day.
Asked what she hopes to gain from the experience of being this year’s Project 351 Ambassador, Shirole says, “I am most excited to see how many people I can impact and maybe even see their reactions.”
For more information on Project 351, visit www.project351.org.