I am currently a senior at Mount Saint Mary Academy and a resident of Metuchen, New Jersey. I joined Troop 81411 thirteen years ago, and I have since earned my Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards.
1. What was the name and purpose of your Gold Award project?
My Girl Scout Gold Award Project LEAN IN focuses on gender equity and women empowerment.
In 2015, I traveled to West Point Military Academy to hear Sheryl Sandberg speak about bridging the gender gap. Ms. Sandberg is the COO of Facebook, co-founder of nonprofit Lean In, and Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead co-author. She encouraged women to fight for seats at the table, "lean in," and assert their voices. Across many disciplines, women are underrepresented and often marginalized. In politics, there is a clear gender likability bias that hinders many women from attaining office. Only 13% of economists in permanent posts are women. In 2017, women earned only 82% of what their male counterparts earned, per the Pew Research Center. As women, it is our duty to lift each other, support one another’s initiatives, and accomplish our goals with grit and determination. When we stand together, there is no obstacle or glass ceiling that can stop us. I hope my project LEAN IN inspires everyone, especially young girls, to overcome the gender equity gap and achieve their fullest potential.
2. What sustainable impact did your Gold Award project have on the community?
My project is twofold: a mural spreads my project’s message and a video educates the general population on how to overcome the gender equality gap. In the fall of 2016, I proposed my project idea LEAN IN to the Girl Scout Council and began communicating with town leaders about a location for the mural. After many meetings, I secured a location for the mural in a communal space at the Metuchen Old Franklin Schoolhouse. The Schoolhouse is a historical venue for communal events, children's concerts, and town gatherings. The mural is moveable, so it can move to various locations in Metuchen. In summer 2017, I painted a moveable mural that depicts a tree that roots in the earth. Around the earth is an inscription: “we all root from the same place.” The message on the mural echoes how women deserve equal opportunities to succeed because we all root from the same place! I subsequently interviewed five women from different professional backgrounds (law, finance, pharmaceuticals, medicine, education, military, nonprofit), and asked them questions such as: “as a woman in your career, have you faced adversity?” and “to all the young women out there, what would you tell them?” After editing and intertwining their videoed responses, I showcased the video to other Girl Scouts. The video is on YouTube for greater accessibility and impact (https://youtu.be/hxAVP2ixUhU).
3. What insights/takeaway did you gain from your project?
The most successful and empowering aspect of my project was witnessing the positive impact it had on others, especially young girls. Since a young age, Girl Scouts has fostered confidence, creativity, resourcefulness, and compassion in me and my peers. I am grateful that Girl Scouts has shaped me into a strong and independent young woman, and I hope my project had just the same impact on others.
4. What is your favorite memory from your time working on your Gold Award project?
The most memorable part of this project was a fateful coincidence. I was driving to Washington D.C. with my father for the National CFL Speech and Debate Competition. It was late at night, and we were stopping at a rest stop to get some dinner. I was waiting in line at Wendy's, and I struck up a conversation with the person next to me. We started to talk - she about her travels to visit friends/family in Cape May and I about my travels to Washington D.C. Then, I noticed her sweatshirt had a "Lean In" (Sheryl Sandberg's nonprofit) logo on it. I asked her if she was a part of a Lean In Circle, which are empowerment and support groups that aim to foster greater gender inclusivity. There are approximately 40,000 Lean In circles today. She then exclaimed that she is board member of the nonprofit! In complete shock, I talked about my project and my work inspired by the nonprofit “Lean In” and Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. A few days later, I received an email from Facebook COO and Lean In co-founder Sheryl Sandberg personally commending my video and thanking me for the work I do to inspire girls around me. Although my project mainly communicated to my local community, it was empowering to see that someone who is nationally recognized for her work in women empowerment, to personally commend a local community trailblazer. I hope my project inspires all young women to reach for their highest potential, just as role models like Sheryl Sandberg inspired me to create my own initiative to empower others in turn. Empowered women empower women.
5. Anything else you'd like to share?
My video is on YouTube if you are interested in viewing it or sharing it with your troop: https://youtu.be/hxAVP2ixUhU. I would also like to thank my Girl Scout Troop 81411 for their help. Through the years, this group of girls has profoundly impacted me as an individual and young woman. I would also like to thank my parents, my siblings John, Luke, and Claire, my extended family, and my friends for their guidance and unwavering support.
All brand credits to LeanIn.org