Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce


Westfield State University student Joseph Seal ’17 of Indian Orchard, Mass. has been named the Westfield State recipient of the 29 Who Shine award by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. These awards were presented to 29 graduates throughout the state who excel in community service and academic excellence. Each recipient is from a community college, state university, or University of Massachusetts campus and is nominated by faculty or a staff member.

The students were honored in a ceremony at the Massachusetts State House on May 5 by Governor Charlie Baker, House and Senate leaders, Secretary of Education James Peyser, Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Carlos Santiago, members of the Board of Higher Education, college presidents, chancellors, and business and non-profit leaders.  

“The 29 Who Shine honorees are exceptional student leaders who saw a way to improve something and acted on it, and for that we are grateful. They are a credit to the colleges and universities they attend. We are proud of their contributions to their communities and the Commonwealth,” Peyser said.

Seal, who is graduating later this month, is a Communication major with a minor in Art. He has achieved Dean’s List status every semester since Fall 2013 and has been heavily involved with a variety of activities and causes on campus over the years. He is currently in a leadership role as vice president of the Multicultural Student Association and a recruitment mentor for the Urban Education Program. Seal has created a successful event on campus, “Black Excellence,” an open mic night featuring music, talent, art, and poetry. He has also served as an artistic director for the Multicultural Student Association and as an ambassador and community service leader for the Urban Education Program. 

Seal’s community service efforts include being a volunteer for the 100 Males of College Initiative. He has also volunteered for the AIDS Walk, Rays of Hope Walk, and Making Strides for Pioneer Valley.

“Westfield State has inspired me to become a leader by presenting me with clubs and opportunities to really get my voice heard on campus,” Seal said. “Westfield has helped me develop as an individual through my roles, and strengthened my realization that I like to give back and help people, whether their problems are academic or personal. My many roles on campus inspire me to pursue a career in higher education.”

Chaitali Brahmbhatt, an advisor for the Urban Education Program and Seal’s mentor, accompanied Seal to the State House to receive the award. Brahmbhatt has been Seal’s mentor for the past four years.

“Joe is a hardworking, confident, and genuine student and person and he is very passionate about helping others and going out of his way to do so,” Brahmbhatt said. “He has been an exemplary mentor and role model to other first generation students.”

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