Babson College sophomore helps students with college applications

Michelle Smith, a graduate of Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, is a central figure in “Three Days to See.” She now lives in Maine.
Michelle Smith, a graduate of Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, is a central figure in “Three Days to See.” She now lives in Maine.

EYE-OPENING DOCUMENTARY: Brookline resident Jordan Salvatoriello, producer and cinematographer of the documentary “Three Days to See,” said that its central figure, Michelle Smith, stood out among her fellow students at Watertown-based Perkins School for the Blind from the beginning.

“She’s incredibly bright and fun to be around, with amazing insight that blows you away,” Salvatoriello said of Smith, who is legally blind and has Asperger’s syndrome. “She’s a real firecracker.”

Now two years into the project, the production team has launched a $20,000 fund-raising campaign on to raise awareness and create a rough cut to promote the film to investors and funders.

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The documentary depicts Smith as she seeks to overcome her difficult past and her physical and emotional challenges in the two years leading to her graduation from Perkins in May 2012.  

Now 20, Smith lives with her mother in Bangor. While she agreed to participate in the film because she thought it would be fun, the project has come to symbolize far more.

“If even one person realizes that true happiness is accepting who you are and feeling comfortable in your own skin,” Smith wrote in an e-mail, “then I’ll feel like this is a success.”

The title, “Three Days to See,” is taken from Perkins graduate Helen Keller’s 1933 essay of the same name, in which Keller describes what she would like to see if given sight for three days. The documentary is the brainchild of director Garrett Zevgetis  of Marlborough, who met Smith while volunteering at Perkins.

Salvatoriello said because everyone knows someone struggling to overcome obstacles in life, the documentary “reaches people on a lot of levels.”

“Our goal is to challenge viewers to confront their own fears, remember what’s important in life, and not take your senses or a single day for granted,” Salvatoriello said.

The fund-raising campaign ends Feb. 3. For more information, visit  

HEAD OF THE CLASS: When she was attending Uplift Education,  the public charter school network in her native Texas, Taelyr Roberts  was encouraged by a college counselor to apply to Babson College  in Wellesley. After learning more about the private business school, Roberts agreed it was a good fit for her entrepreneurial nature. After all, she had sold handmade headbands, jewelry, candles, soap, cakes, and cookies since the eighth  grade.

Now a college sophomore, Roberts (inset) is on the eight-member executive board of Babson Admission Mentors, which pairs members of the student organization with juniors at John O’Bryant High School in Roxbury. Over one academic year, they work closely together to navigate the college selection, application, and admission process.

The student organization is derived from Babson Peer Consulting, a program run through the Babson admission office during the spring semester of the previous four years. However, Roberts emphasizes that mentors are committed to helping high school students get accepted to whichever college best fits their interests and goals.

Since the program launched last fall, two dozen mentors and their corresponding O’Bryant students have met four times to get to know each other, participate in question-and-answer sessions, and spend time one-on-one. Several more meetings are planned for this spring to discuss financial aid and other individual concerns.

According to Roberts, some of the O’Bryant students will be the first in their families to attend college.

“I know it sounds simple,” she said, “but my goal and dream is to see all of our students go to the college of their choice, where they’ll be happy.”

GIVING BACK: Seven years ago, Cynthia Edelman  began asking the 75 students in her French in Acton school to make donations to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in lieu of holiday gifts for her and the other two teachers. Their most recent collection effort ended Dec. 31 and raised $2,000, for a grand total exceeding $12,000 since 2006.  

Edelman, who lives in Acton, selected the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation because her nephew and niece, 23-year-old Paul  and 16-year-old Olivia Brendel  of Pittsburgh, have the disease. While her relatives are among those who benefit from the drug Kalydeco — which is made by Cambridge-based Vertex Pharmaceuticals and was approved one year ago by the Food and Drug Administration to treat a certain gene mutation — Edelman’s goal is continued contribution to research and development of a cure for everyone living with cystic fibrosis.

“We’re raising money, as a group, to add to these children’s life expectancies and quality of life,” she said.

SOUPER BOWL: The Holliston Pantry Shelf is hosting its seventh annual Souper Bowl on Feb. 2 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at Upper Town Hall, 703 Washington St. in Holliston. Proceeds benefit the general operating fund of the volunteer-run pantry, which provides food free of charge to Holliston residents in need.

The event features all-you-can-eat gourmet soup, fresh bread, desserts, and beverages. Six soups are being prepared and donated by Bazel’s Pizza & Sub Shop, Bertucci’s Italian Restaurant, Casey’s Crossing, Holliston Superette, Pejamajo Cafe, and Whole Foods Market in Bellingham.

Those who purchase an adult or senior ticket also get a keepsake ceramic soup mug.

Tickets cost $15 for ages 12 and over, or $8 for seniors and ages 6 to 11. Ages 5 and under are free.

Tickets are available at Coffee Haven, Fiske’s General Store, and Holliston Superette. For more information, visit .  

NEW ON BOARD: Carole Prest  (inset) of Groton was recently elected to the board of directors at Indian Hill Music of Littleton. Prest, who provides strategy consulting services to nonprofit organizations, will serve a three-year term. She is also vice chair of the board of the Children’s Advocacy Center in Boston.