June 2023 – Benjamin Franklin once quipped, “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” Blake School junior Molly Seidel is the perfect embodiment of this idea.
Seidel’s passions begin with swimming, a sport in which she has competed on the Varsity roster since seventh grade. Perhaps unsurprisingly for an athlete who has participated at that high level since middle school, Seidel has many achievements to her name.
“I am record holder for the 400 Free Relay and 200 Medley Relay at Blake,” she said. Seidel is also a three-time member of the elite Minnesota All-State Team and has racked up multiple leaderboard appearances on the State stage.
“My contributions were rewarded in the form of being named co-captain this season, and I will be co-captain for my senior year as well.”
By this point, shouldering leadership responsibilities feels natural to Seidel. Last year, as a sophomore, she assumed an oversight position with Blake’s housing committee – one of many community service-oriented groups that make up the school’s Community Service Board. As group co-leader, she manages that committee’s standing relationship with Habitat for Humanity.
Habitat for Humanity strives to provide stable and affordable housing for all Minnesotans – a tall order in a housing market marked by rising rents and low vacancy rates. Their many build sites rely on volunteer labor to manage costs.
Seidel has pitched in herself at various locations across Minneapolis and Minnetonka, but the lion’s share of her effort is devoted to enlisting and managing peers in service of Habitat’s important work. Under her leadership, those ranks have grown significantly.
“What I’ve found most rewarding, and what I’m most proud of, is that my generation has such a dedication to helping others. Whenever I organize something for the good of the community, my classmates seem to jump in full force.”
Seidel can cite many other examples of this commitment in action. Last year, she marshalled support from the housing committee (and the allied hunger committee) to host a breakfast for residents at Simpson Housing Services, a nonprofit aiding Minnesotans transitioning out of homelessness.
Blake students planned that meal, purchased ingredients, coordinated cooking and personally staffed the breakfast. “It was powerful and deeply gratifying to serve fellow community members – directly and in person,” Seidel said.
On other occasions, Seidel recruited from among her swim team to volunteer with Wakan Tipi Awanyankapi (also known as the Lower Phalen Creek Project), an environmental conservation nonprofit focused on the restoration and care of Dakota sites along the Mississippi River.
Seidel says watershed stewardship is another particular passion of hers. "Chloride is the worst pollutant in Minnesota's fresh water, on account of heavy usage of road salt." Over the coming months, she intends to work with the Nine Mile Creek Watershed District and a citizens advocacy organization called Stop Over-Salting (“SOS”) to educate Edina residents about the deleterious effects of sodium chloride and how to curb overuse.
Seidel hones her advocacy, project management and teamwork skills through an extracurricular club called DECA.
“DECA stands for the Distributive Education Club in America,” Seidel shared. “It revolves [around] the preparation and presentation of business plans specific to topics of special interest in the areas of marketing, finance, hospitality or management.”
In addition to working collaboratively with classmates, DECA includes a competition component. In these tournaments – which take place at regional, national and international levels – emerging leaders are tasked with analyzing a business problem and presenting viable solutions through oral and written reports. The former must be done with a mere 10-minute lead time.
"I think it's incredibly valuable,” Seidel reflected. “DECA has probably helped me more than I've realized in speaking and in thinking on my feet.”
That’s doubtless true. Molly Seidel holds distinction as the first student in The Blake School’s decade-long participation in DECA to qualify for the international competition more than once. She’s done it three times – and still has her senior year ahead of her.