Going Gold: Meet Our National Young Women of Distinction Nominees

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.


Yue _Cherry_ Ying#B398Cherry 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.”

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School lecture on hand sanitizer in Ningbo, China.

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.”

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Cherry delivering 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.”

Eleanor FausettEllie 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 GehenBridget 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.”

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Bridget with her grandpa, who inspired her Gold Award project.

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!’”

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Bridget with a focus group for her project.

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.”


Congratulations, Girl Scouts, on your nominations for National Young Women of Distinction—and for earning the Girl Scout Gold Award and touching the lives of people both far and near.

Are you interested in attending our 2017 Gold Award Ceremony on Saturday, June 3? Click here for details.

My Girl Scout Gold Award Experience

Thinking about “going for gold” and working toward your Girl Scout Gold Award? Or know a Girl Scout who is?

Guest blogger and Girl Advisory Bureau member Abby B. shares her Gold Award experience with us—inspiration for all girls striving to earn Girl Scouting’s highest honor. (And inspiration for staying in Girl Scouts through high school!) Check out Abby’s story below.


Pretty much my whole childhood was spent in Girl Scouts. I always knew I was going to do the Gold Award. But the Gold Award was always just a light at the end of an endless tunnel. It always seemed infinitely far away. But then it hit me—I realized I would have to start pretty soon. And I couldn’t really start if I couldn’t come up with an idea. So I actually had to sit and think about what I would do for my project.

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Girl Scout Abby B. presenting on internet safety for her Gold Award project.

What is the Gold Award, though? [Editor’s note: We have an answer for that.] Most of the time, people describe it as the Girl Scout equivalent of the Eagle Award. And that is true. It’s a bit sad that it has to be described as the equivalent of a better-known project. To be honest, I’m not really sure why the Gold Award is so obscure compared to the Eagle Award. Hopefully it can become more well-known one day. It’s really a respectable service project. It really is.

So anyway, I thought quite a bit about what I was going to do. It seems as though many Girl Scouts do a garden project or collection project. But I wanted to do something unique and related to technology. I wanted to challenge myself to create an original project. Outside of the project I’m pretty interested in computers and video games. My dad works with computers too, so I suppose I knew what I was going to do. I discussed a project about internet safety with him, and he wanted me to do an ambitious project about protecting investors’ funds. I told him that was too broad, so I decided to do a more focused project—raising awareness about internet safety for kids and families.

Now I definitely did grow up in an internet-centric world. However, the rise of smartphones and tablets have made it much easier for kids and families to access the internet. This obviously has positives and negatives. On the one hand, during the course of the project I was impressed to learn how much parents did know about internet safety. I guess that’s definitely a positive to having easier access to the internet. However, on the other hand, with the internet now being such an essential part of our lives, it is easier than ever for criminals to attack individuals. I learned that even well-meaning parents may not know everything they need to know in order to protect their children.img_3254

So I did complete the Girl Scout Gold Award project proposal application process, and I had an interview. My project was without conditions, and I was allowed to start my project right away. To raise awareness about internet safety, I needed to have a concrete and measurable goal. My goal was to share a PowerPoint presentation about internet safety that I presented throughout Los Angeles, various schools, libraries, churches, Boy Scout troops, and Girl Scout troops. I also directed and produced a video about internet safety. After the video, I created a website about internet safety.

I started the project toward the end of the school year last year, but I completed most of it during the summer. At first the project seemed pretty daunting, but in the end, I realized it was a lot of fun.

Throughout the project, I developed leadership and public speaking skills, as well as time management strategies. I also learned how to do something actually productive over the summer instead of completely wasting my time. I encourage all Girl Scouts to stay in Girl Scouts until high school to have the opportunity to earn the Girl Scout Gold Award—it is an amazing leadership and community service experience.


Thank you, Abby, for detailing how you created and executed your Gold Award project, from start to finish. It’s a great example of what Girl Scouts pursuing the Gold Award can expect. (Troop leaders, be sure to share Abby’s story with your Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts, along with this link on our website!)

And for anyone who needs a refresher on what the Gold Award is all about, don’t forget to check out this video starring our very own Girl Scouts.

Will You Go for Gold?

What does the Girl Scout Gold Award mean to you? We’ve been celebrating the centennial of the Gold Award throughout the year, from our 2016 Gold Award Ceremony to our trip to the State Capitol. And we’re still striving to raise awareness about the Gold Award—the highest honor a Girl Scout can achieve, representing excellence and leadership.

In a recent speech at the San Marino Rotary Club, GSGLA CEO Lise L. Luttgens expounded on the benefits of the Gold Award, and how it compares with the Eagle Scout rank in Boy Scouts and a black belt in martial arts: “What do all of those three things have in common? Long-term commitment, persistence, ability to stick with something, overcoming an obstacle, working as a team and working independently.”

But don’t take our word for it—listen to our very own Girl Scouts who’ve earned the Gold Award! Watch the video below.

Stay tuned for more videos from our girls, showcasing their hard work and drumming up support for the Gold Award. And if you or any Girl Scouts you know want to go for gold, click here to find out more!