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Right Brain? Left Brain? Or Heart?

Jillian Pecoriello, a Staples junior, today showed members of Westport Sunrise Rotary a teenager making substantial and meaningful contributions with her right brain, her left brain and her heart.

For these she received the club’s Young Student Entrepreneur of the Month award.

She was introduced by club member John Branson, who lauded her as an “extraordinarily gifted artist” who designs and sells caricatures on stationery and “gives back by donating her proceeds to Project Morry.”

Jillian has been cartooning since elementary school.  She created characters that became the theme for her bat mitzvah, then looked for a way to use them “to make a difference.”

Two years ago, while swimming laps at camp to raise money for the Project Morry, right brain Jillian created Silly Jilly (  She told the club that her business “has now raised over $2,000″ for the charity, and plans to do even more.

Through Silly Jilly she designs personalized stationery and cards, mostly for teenagers. She runs her web business, she has had very nice orders from staff and students at school and she is one the few teenagers exhibiting and selling at crafts fairs.

Project Morry “funds a scholarship camping program for children from disadvantaged communities,” then mentors its campers year round. It reaches some 400 children, ages 9 to 18 each year, and provides educational and personal support that has helped many of its graduates enter college.

Her highly active right brain led her into other artistic activities, including painting sets for Staples Players’ productions and doing graphics and cartoons for Inklings, the Staples student newspaper.  And next year she’ll be a part of  Staples’ Honors Art Studio.

Her left brain makes her one of 25 high school students from all over the world selected to perform research at Yale School of Medicine Ob Gyn Department this summer. She was chosen in part on the strength of an essay about why she is interested in the area she will be researching – preeclampsia, a condition occurring during the second trimester of pregnancy in which high blood pressure and proteins in urine can become a leading cause of perinatal and maternal morbidity and mortality.

Jillian’s heart got her active in Best Buddies and Circle of Friends. The first is a Staples group, the other a part of the Temple Beth Israel community. Both bring mainstream teenagers together with special needs kids to share their experiences, bring happiness and show teenagers that as volunteers, they can make a difference.

Still undecided about what appears some great choices for the future, Jillian seems to be leaning to her left brain. But with her abilities?

Roy Fuchs