This week’s Student Feature Friday is senior Michaela Campbell. During her 8th grade year, Michaela was nominated to be a Project 351 ambassador. “Project 351 is an innovative statewide youth-driven service organization that unites an eighth grade Ambassador from each of the 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for a transformative year of leadership development, enrichment, and impact. Through unique service opportunities, Ambassadors gain valuable skills, create positive change in communities, build a statewide network of values-aligned peers, and unite the Commonwealth in common purpose.” (www.project351.org)
During Michaela’s year with Project 351 she discovered she was passionate about community service. Her work with food drives led to a position on the Board for the Holliston Food Pantry where she serves as the Liaison for the Public School District. She has worked with the 5th grade food drive, raising 2,312 pounds of food last year to benefit families in the community. Discussing her experience with the food drive she stated that “it is amazing to see the difference you can make in someone’s life just by providing food and kindness”. Michaela has participated in the advisory program at HHS as a Student Advisory Leader and believes that advisory is a good opportunity for students to be exposed to service opportunities so that they might find their passion and purpose.
As a result of her experience with Project 351 and the Holliston Food Pantry she is pursuing a career in public service. Her goal is to major in public and community service with a minor in Spanish. She is hoping to study in Spain and work for a nonprofit.
Q: What impact did your nomination for and experience with Project 351 have on your goals for the future?
A: If it wasn’t for Project 351, I would not have the love of service that I do today. I remember on Launch Day at the State House in 2014, I was sitting with 350 of the other newest ambassadors. We heard from multiple influential leaders like Governor Deval Patrick, Robert Kraft, and Carolyn Casey and they all had the same message. Not only did they think we could make an impact, they knew we could make an impact that would not go unnoticed by the community. This stuck with me ever since. Project 351 encouraged me to find a passion and make a positive change no matter what anyone else thought.
Q: During our conversation you stated, “young people have so much power to be change makers.” This is a powerful statement and I am hoping you can explain it a little further. What are you hoping young people will change?
A: Lately there has been too much negativity and hatred in the world. Countries are fighting, groups are discriminated against, and opportunities are limited for those with less wealth or social status. Young people have the ability to change this simply by being kind to each other. I’ve noticed that adults have a harder time looking past differences and being kind even if they don’t agree with someone’s actions or beliefs. But we shouldn’t be looking past our differences, we should be celebrating them. With an open mind and a caring heart, young people can stop this pattern and create a more accepting community.
Q: What have you learned from your role as a member of the board for the Holliston food pantry?
A: I’ve learned that good intentions and the desire to help others isn’t enough. You can be inspired by stories of pantry users and encouraged to make life better for someone else, but this won’t get you far enough. Networking and using connections within the community as resources is vital to gaining support. I’ve also learned more about what it takes to keep the pantry running from a financial and building maintenance standpoint.
Q: What advice would you have for other students who might want to become more involved in service to their community?
A: You have four years to learn and play sports and hang out with friends. But you also have four years to find your passion and make a difference. Don’t be afraid to test the waters and try a variety of service opportunities. When you find your passion, commit to it and make the most positive impact you can.