As the premier leadership organization for girls, Girl Scouts is committed to providing girls with a myriad of opportunities to build their skills, develop courage, and try new things. We’re also committed to connecting with community partners who share the same goals.
Last month, our high-school Girl Scouts had an amazing chance to participate in mentor-guided workshops at Deloitte University Impact Day. Senior Genetha C. attended and shared her experience with us.
As Girl Scouts, when we see a problem, we find a solution. On June 9, I experienced an amazing day with other Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts, being mentored by employees of Deloitte University. We explored problem-solving in business and technology through a series of group activities and workshops—Finance 101, Introduction to Consulting, Technology in Business, Leadership in Business—and discussions with mentors on education and summer internships.
In Finance 101, we received an empty worksheet to create a budget. There was a Powerpoint that guided us in choosing which kind of home and car we want in the future, as well as other necessities we think are important. We had to figure out how much we can save, taking fixed expenses, transportation, and more into consideration.
The workshop Introduction to Consulting covered management information, analytical applications, and record management and how to improve those functions; while Technology in Business taught us which devices you can use to be successful in a business.
One of my favorite workshops was Leadership in Business, where we watched cool videos about leaders in history. We learned that we are all leaders in our own way. I also learned the acronym “P.D.I.G.,” which stands for Pioneer, Driver, Integrator, and Guardian: The Pioneer loves exploring; the Driver loves a challenge; the Integrator is all about connecting; and the Guardian values stability and strives for accuracy. As Girl Scouts, we can relate these to the “G.I.R.L.” acronym. Which one are you?
In one of the mentoring sessions, we were challenged with a unique issue: One of the worker’s cousins has a known brand of shoes outside of the country—she wanted to know how we, as Girl Scouts, can make her brand more known in America: whether we liked the style, how they could improve sales, how they have problems with current exchange, and more. Together, we came up with questions to get to the root of the issues, such as: How many shoes has she sold over the year? How long does it take to make the shoes? What makes the shoe special?
Together, we were able to come up with solutions to help customize the shoes, make them seasonal, get experts to work on the website, and more. Groups presented their solutions to mentors who worked for Deloitte—and those who presented received cool Deloitte steel bottles.
I want to thank Deloitte for the advice on business and helping us develop more leadership skills. Also, I am happy GSGLA gives us fun and helpful programs that benefit us every day.
Thank you, Genetha! We also want to thank Deloitte for giving our girls the chance to develop their leadership and business skills during this exciting day of impact.
The school year’s winding down and troops are bridging to the next level—but we’re gearing up for the Gold Award Ceremony on June 3, where we’ll be honoring 256 Girl Scouts who’ve earned Girl Scouting’s highest achievement: the Gold Award. In order to earn the honor, Girl Scouts must complete a large-scale Take Action project that makes a sustainable impact on their communities and beyond. Only a small percentage of Girl Scouts achieve the prestigious Gold Award, which qualifies them for scholarships and other incentives.
Each year, Girl Scouts of the USA selects 10 exceptional Gold Award Girl Scouts as National Young Women of Distinction—girls whose projects demonstrated extraordinary leadership and addressed a local challenge related to a national (or even global) issue. Every council submits nominees for the national distinction. We spoke with GSGLA’s 2017 nominees to find out how they embody what it means to be a G.I.R.L., making an incredible difference in the world. Read their stories about their Gold Award projects below.
Cherry Ying, Troop 2935, Ambassador Girl Scout Girl Scout Journey: “I’d never heard about anything like Girl Scouts until I came to the U.S. three years ago by myself from China. When I learned that Girl Scouts helps girls make the world a better place, I joined right away.” Inspiration: “Growing up in Ningbo, China, I’d never seen a hospital with hand sanitizer; quite frankly, I didn’t even know hand sanitizer existed. During my years in the U.S., I interned for a pediatrician, where I was amazed by the amount of hand sanitizer everywhere. This really motivated me to bring Americans’ strong health awareness to my hometown.”
Summary: “My project, ‘Hand in Hand,’ took place in both the U.S. and China. I fundraised and brought 90 bottles of hand sanitizer to community hospitals in Ningbo, created brochures and posters, hosted school lectures, and taught residents in the hospitals how to properly use hand sanitizer.”
Impact: “My project help jumpstart a government-sponsored program to distribute hand sanitizer every month to community hospitals.” Future: “I want to become a decision scientist (a type of data scientist) and use mathematics, equations, data analytics, and technology to solve the world’s existing problems, such as cancer.” Why Go For Gold?: “Pursuing the Gold Award can be a great conclusion to the Girl Scout journey and an amazing start of something big in the future.” Fun Fact: “My first language is not Mandarin or Cantonese or English—it’s Ningbo dialect. It’s funny that even though [in China] we all speak Chinese, if we speak in our own dialect, people from another region won’t understand us; thus, it’s like a completely different language.”
Ellie Fausett, Troop 1751, Ambassador Girl Scout Girl Scout Journey: “I’ve been a Girl Scout for the past nine years, and Girl Scouts has been a big part of my life since the girls in my troop are my best friends.” Inspiration: “I work at Glendale Adventist Medical Center in the pediatric occupational therapy unit. I help get kids in and out of their jackets and coats because they do not have fine motor skills. The existing tools [for teaching the kids] were not engaging and very repetitive.” Summary: “I wanted to combine teaching dressing skills with playing dress-up, so I made sensory integration dressing vests. After sewing the vests by myself, I taught therapists about them and showed them how they can be used. Also, I created a website, dresswithoutstress.help, where adults can go and learn about my project and how sensory integration therapy works.”
Impact: “My project helped improve the lives of the children who use the vests since they can learn the skills they need faster. Also, other individuals who read my website will learn about fine motor therapy and different ways for dressing assistance.” Future: “I would like to go to college and study early childhood brain development. I would then like to become a pediatric occupational therapist.” Why Go For Gold?: “My Gold Award taught me so much about myself. I would recommend this experience to anyone who wants to grow as a person and help change their community.” Fun Fact: “I have taken four years of French and hope to become fluent. Also, I am learning sign language so I can communicate with the children I work with who can’t speak.”
Bridget Gehan, Troop 1912, Ambassador Girl Scout Girl Scout Journey: “I started Girl Scouts in 2006 when I moved to Los Angeles from Morristown, New Jersey and it was the first place I felt accepted in my new life. It has been an incredible experience that I would not change for the world.” Inspiration: “‘Empowering Teenagers Against Alzheimer’s (ETAA)’ was inspired by my grandpa’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s in 2014 and the heartbreaking journey that I went through afterwards. I looked for something to help me understand what was happening to Pop Pop and how I could help, but everything available was for small children who couldn’t comprehend the disease or for adults focusing on medical, financial, and insurance issues.”
Summary: “ETAA is an internet-based educational outreach program for teenagers and young adults who have been touched by this disease in one way or another. In creating this program, I had to do in-depth research about Alzheimer’s, interview scientists, social workers, and countless teenagers to get an accurate perspective of the entire problem. I then spent months storyboarding, filming, interviewing, and editing until my project was perfect.” Impact: “Since the official induction of ETAA into the Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles program, more than 800 people have been reached and learned from my work. These people are in 21 different countries on six different continents. Susan Galeas [the president and CEO of Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles] commented on one of my videos: ‘Incredibly successful way to educate the general public and a younger generation about this insidious disease… Your commitment and passion are making a difference!’”
Future: “I want to go to a good college that has a strong program in business, public policy, or political science. I would love to work in politics and government to help make the world a better and safer place. It is my dream to be president of the United States, but I would also love to work as a senator.” Why Go For Gold?: “Every girl should pursue their Gold Award because it is not only a gratifying experience, but a learning one too. My Gold Award taught me how to effectively solve problems and gave me the tools and courage to do it. [But] the most important thing the Gold Award gave me was the drive to finish and the understanding of how I can use that drive in my future.” Fun Fact: “I have been working in my school’s journalism program for two years and will be one of two co-editors-in-chief of my high school’s blog and newspaper next year.”
As Girl Scouts, we’re all about challenging ourselves, trying new experiences, and exploring our interests. Recently, dozens of GSGLA Seniors and Ambassadors participated in the first-ever Girl Scout Startup Weekend (held in partnership with Google for Entrepreneurs and Techstars). Ambassador Girl Scout Dagny S., who is also a Gold Award recipient, took part in Startup Weekend and shared her experience with us for the blog.
In GSGLA, it seems like the opportunities never stop coming! I just experienced the most amazing weekend with dozens of other high school-age Girl Scouts, being mentored and coached by business leaders at a Startup Weekend. The event description on the GSGLA website had said we would “…pitch ideas, form teams, create a prototype, and participate in a Shark Tank-style pitch competition… be mentored and judged by successful business and thought leaders.” I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but it definitely sounded like something I should try!
When I arrived Friday evening, I was honored to interview keynote speaker Jemie Sae Koo onstage. Ms. Koo is one of the top 100 most-followed chief marketing officers on Twitter (she even tweeted about us, check it out), and has accomplished so many things that honestly it is hard to keep track of them all! She was easy to talk to and her confidence and success were inspiring. After our “eat and meet,” we did some fun activities to learn about team-building (I will never look at spaghetti and marshmallows the same way again!) and how to make a good pitch.
On Saturday, we pitched our ideas to the group. I was disappointed my idea didn’t get chosen, but jumped in to be part of a team pitching a winning idea. I didn’t know any girls at Startup Weekend before I got there, but we formed a working team and started collaborating pretty quickly. My job turned out to be developing the business plan and marketing. We worked all day creating a prototype, and mentors also came in that day to help with application design and business models.
On Sunday, the teams finished developing their ideas, and I represented my team at the business mentoring session. Also, Glen Liu, an intellectual property attorney, gave a great presentation on how to create an effective presentation for a pitch. I thought Mr. Liu’s presentation was one of the most valuable parts of the weekend. Our team then improved our presentation and together we practiced our pitch. Later in the day, the judges arrived to hear our pitches, and my team was super excited to win first place! We happily claimed our award and enjoyed a nice dinner with everyone looking great in uniform.
I am grateful that GSGLA provides these kinds of opportunities for us, and I am especially thankful to Elizabeth Chadwick and Bethany Wylie (who also helped me a ton as I navigated the Gold Award process last year) for organizing this amazing event. Thank you all so much!
Congratulations to all our G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders) who participated in Startup Weekend, and huge thanks to our mentors, judges, and guests who guided our future CEOs over 54 hours and gave them feedback. Here are the full results:
1st Place: Line Up, an app that allows users to play games with others waiting in line at amusement parks
2nd Place: 21st 60’s, a company that solves the problem of costly designer jeans—customers send in their old jeans and the company facilitates embroidery of the jeans and sends it back to the customer
3rd Place: Reel Squishy, a sea creature-themed children’s toothbrush with a toothpaste reservoir; give it a squeeze and it dispenses just enough toothpaste
Best Design & Best Presentation: Save Our Soles, an app that solves the problem of shoes of the same size actually being differently sized
Honorable Mention: U Got This, a peer advice website, app, and newsletter that provides a safe space for teens to give positive advice to each other
Honorable Mention: Chaos Unraveled, a website and business facilitating video STEM tutoring between high-school students
At GSGLA, we have multiple opportunities for older girls to take the lead like a Girl Scout while discovering new interests and activities. Visit our website to learn more.
“If you want to make a big impact, you can’t be afraid to think big too.”
Girl Scouts not only help their own communities—their work can even span the globe! Such is the case with many of GSUSA’s National Young Women of Distinction.
Each year, GSUSA honors 10 National Young Women of Distinction who demonstrated exceptional leadership through their Gold Award projects. In 2015, GSGLA’s own Pooja Nagpal earned the distinction for her Gold Award project in which she developed a self-defense program for girls in rural India. Pooja now attends UC Berkeley, but we have another National Young Woman of Distinction living in Greater LA—2016 National Young Woman of Distinction Hanna Chuang, who attends USC.
Hanna grew up in Singapore, where she led her Gold Award project as a member of USA Girl Scouts Overseas. Noticing the stark income equality that existed in neighboring countries, she partnered with a small NGO to cofound a service club called READ (Rural Education and Development) Bhutan. Club members built a READ center in a rural village in Bhutan, and Hanna collected and donated more than 3,000 books to the center—and that’s not all.
We spoke with Hanna to learn more about her Gold Award project and how it’s shaped the successful young woman she has become.
What are you studying at USC and what are your career aspirations?
I am a freshman studying Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the USC Keck School of Medicine. As of now I am a premed student, but I’ve thought about going into research or possibly taking a minor in nonprofit management and also journalism. The dream is to become a doctor and work in third-world countries or to work for the CDC studying diseases and working on preventing or curing some of them.
How long did you live in Singapore? Where did you live previously?
I was born in Fairfax, Virginia and moved to Singapore when I was five. My family ended up staying in Singapore so I attended Singapore American School from kindergarten through my senior year of high school. I actually credit a lot of my project’s success to living in Singapore. Singapore’s geographic location made us neighbors of many developing countries despite being one of the most developed countries in the world. Because of this, people living in Singapore and those who attended my high school are very aware of the inequality that exists in our world and are open to hearing about worthwhile causes and are generous when asked to help out. My high school is also extremely supportive of service initiatives which made the process of finding a student audience very straightforward and organized. It is also because of my high school’s investment in service that I was able to create an annual trip that takes about 20 students and two teacher sponsors to Bhutan and visits the different READ centers that are set up there, including the one that we helped build.
What was your biggest takeaway from this Gold Award project? What did you learn about yourself?
Definitely realizing that helping people was something I want to do for the rest of my life. I love working with women and children and will always be an advocate for equal access to an education and women’s empowerment; however, I wanted to branch out and study science and medicine to be able to help people everywhere, just in a different way.
What’s the most useful skill you learned from doing your Gold Award project that has been particularly helpful as a student at USC?
Besides getting to work on my organizational skills, I learned how to work with all different types of people and found ways to assess and recognize the needs of others and adjust my approach to cater those specific needs. Throughout the project, I had to be unapologetic about reaching out to people to raise awareness and also to ask for help and support. By the end of the project, I had collaborated with almost every type of group imaginable: students, faculty, and administration to start and run the club at school, business owners and adults to raise money to buy the supplies we needed (we raised $160,000 in one year), Olympic athletes to help raise awareness, people who work for the READ organization, and the women and children who live in Bhutan.
What’s your biggest piece of advice for a girl who wants to make a big impact with a Gold Award project?
If you want to make a big impact, you can’t be afraid to think big too. Your project could be inspired by something directly related to your own life, but it doesn’t have to be. Oftentimes, there are causes around the world that we feel strongly about but may be uncomfortable with taking action on because we aren’t sure about what we can do to help or are worried that the issue is too distant and complicated to be a part of. The Gold Award is great because the project isn’t just about helping and making a difference right off the bat, but also learning how to help in the process. Even though I lived in Singapore, I focused my project on Bhutan, a country 3,000 miles away. Physical distance from a project may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! If there’s something you’re passionate about, make it your project and if you need help, don’t be shy about reaching out to people involved with the cause for support.
We’re so thankful to Hanna for sharing her valuable insight and wisdom.
Stay tuned for more information on the 2017 National Young Women of Distinction. In the meantime, you can read more about Hanna and her Girl Scouting experience here.
You can also read more about the Girl Scout Gold Award—the prerequisite for every National Young Woman of Distinction—by clicking here.
Girl Scouts take on challenges in their own communities and around the world. By addressing girls’ access to education, six Greater LA Girl Scouts exemplified true G.I.R.L. spirit—and earned $15,000 in scholarships from Students Stand #WithMalala, in conjunction with GSGLA: Jena Anastasi (Grand Prize, Chino Hills), Meera Varma (Second Prize, Burbank) and Honorable Mention recipients Sarah Andrews (Burbank), Sierra Brooks (Gardena), Natalie Gold (Santa Monica), and Jayleen Ramos (Glendale). They received special recognition on Dec. 8 from GSGLA CEO Lise L. Luttgens.
Recently, the issue of girls’ access to education has come to the forefront, largely thanks to organizations like the Malala Fund. The problem was also the theme of this year’s Girl Scout Global Action Award, which Girl Scouts earn by making “a difference on an issue that affects girls and women all over the world.” To apply for the scholarship, high school juniors and seniors needed to have earned the award—and developed and implemented a Take Action project targeting a barrier to girls’ access to education.
Congratulations to our scholarship winners! Here are more details about their projects:
Jena Anastasi, Chino Hills (Grand Prize, $6,000)
In order to provide girls with the confidence to explore careers in STEM, Jena taught four science lessons with corresponding experiments to students at the Chino Teen Center. She was also invited by Threshold Technologies to present experiments at the Love, Hope, & Charity Foundation for youth and families. Participants were so impressed with the program, she was invited back to present a program to 800 more youth.
Meera Varma, Burbank (Second Prize, $3,000)
Meera addressed the lack of female representation in the computer science field by working with the Women in STEM club at Burbank High School to provide coding/Java workshops to fifth graders. The program will continue on a monthly basis.
Sarah Andrews, Burbank (Honorable Mention, $1,500)
Sarah spent more than 116 hours on her project which aimed to increase girls’ exposure to STEM-related careers. She taught robotics to girls ages 11–14 and inspired them to form two FIRST Lego League robotics teams.
Sierra Brooks, Gardena (Honorable Mention, $1,500)
Sierra partnered with a local YMCA in support of a reading program. She replaced books, created a reading area with reading buddies and comfortable chairs, and coached girls to read above their grade levels. By the end of her project, 95 percent of the participants were reading above grade level, furthering their academic success.
Natalie Gold, Santa Monica (Honorable Mention, $1,500)
Continuing her Girl Scout Gold Award project to inspire and encourage girls to explore careers in engineering, Natalie created and conducted a workshop, “Engineering, the E in STEM” at a Title I school, bringing in a STEM professional to assist. She also delivered a speech regarding the STEM gender gap to more than 180 Girl Scouts and their families. Her project website has more than 12,000 hits.
Jayleen Ramos, Glendale (Honorable Mention, $1,500)
With the goal of encouraging more girls to explore STEM-related career paths, Jayleen coached a FIRST Lego League all-girl robotics team. She focused her efforts on an all-girl team to encourage each girl to learn and lead in team-tasking, which is often done by boys on co-ed teams.
To learn more about scholarship opportunities for Girl Scouts, browse through our Older Girl Opportunities on our website and make sure you are signed up to receive Great News!, our monthly member newsletter. You can also learn more about the Girl Scout Global Action Award—open to Girl Scouts of all levels—by clicking here.
“Girl Scouts has offered me so many opportunities to challenge myself, help others, and invest in people’s lives.”
Editor’s note: Want to join us at the 2017 ToGetHerThere Luncheon on Monday, Oct. 30? Tables and individual tickets are available. Click here for more information.
They’re the embodiment of the Girl Scout mission: GSGLA Emerging Leader Girl Scouts display courage, confidence, and character and are making the world a better place. Not only that, they exemplify extraordinary leadership skills. At the 2016 ToGetHerThere Luncheon, we celebrated the accomplishments of these amazing girls, along with more than 600 business and civic leaders from across Greater LA—and addressed the state of girls’ and women’s leadership. Prior to the luncheon, the girls received advice and exchanged ideas with many of these leaders during minute-mentoring sessions.
We spoke with a couple Emerging Leaders to get their perspective on the unique opportunities afforded to them: Senior Girl Scout Peyton A. (below left) of Troop 4645 and Ambassador Girl Scout (and GSGLA National Young Women of Distinction nominee) Kaitlyn T. (below right) of Troop 11705. The girls have different opinions and views, but ultimately agree—the Emerging Leader program has been a thoroughly rewarding one.
How would you describe your Emerging Leader experience? Peyton: Very inspiring and honoring. I learned so many wonderful tips on how to succeed in my future as well as how to earn respect in the workplace. Kaitlyn: Amazing. There were so many opportunities for us between the minute-mentoring sessions, the luncheon, and networking times to meet and talk to professionals from all over Los Angeles. I feel super honored to have been given the opportunity to attend this great event.
What was the most valuable part of ToGetHerThere? Kaitlyn: The minute-mentoring sessions where I got to meet women business leaders and professionals and learn about their different experiences in the workforce. It was encouraging to meet women who are ready and willing to be mentors to the young women in our country—an often-overlooked group. Peyton: I loved hearing about all of the different mentors’ life and career journeys—they each gave me a piece of advice that I can definitely put to use during the rest of my Girl Scout career and as I enter the workforce in a few years.
What’s the most important piece of advice you received? Peyton: Persevere and don’t give up, no matter how hard or long the journey may seem; you will get there and accomplish your goal eventually, sometimes it just takes time. Kaitlyn: Find a mentor who can help navigate me through the workforce. Not only do I have to work hard, but I also have to have people invested in my life who are willing to help me.
How do you think you’ll apply what you’ve learned as an Emerging Leader in the future? Kaitlyn: I think I’ll apply what I learned from Emerging Leaders not just after college but in the near future as well. I hope to start making life-long relationships with people willing to invest in me and help me succeed in my professional journey. Peyton: In my future, I can definitely apply this advice—when you’re working with a group of people, you might have to adapt your teaching or communication styles a little in order to work more effectively with others.
How has Girl Scouts made an impact on your life? Peyton: Girl Scouts has taught me how to plan and manage big events, how to act and communicate in professional settings, and has given me a sense of community and sisterhood in my troop over the past nine years of being a Girl Scout. Kaitlyn: Girl Scouts has offered me so many opportunities to challenge myself, help others, and invest in people’s lives. It has taught me to not only find ways to help out in the community but to take initiative and address issues. I’m so thankful to be given an opportunity to be a Girl Scout—something that not all girls in our world are able to have—and know that I’ll be involved in this great organization for the rest of my life.
Thank you to Peyton and Kaitlyn for sharing your experiences! To learn more about the Emerging Leader program, click here. To get details on ToGetHerThere, the largest fundraising campaign for girls in history, click here.