Meet Enerys P: She Puts the Leader in G.I.R.L.

Meet Enerys Pagan: She Puts the Leader in G.I.R.L.

The young women featured in this series have not only earned Girl Scouts’ highest honor by being named 2016 National Young Women of Distinction—they also serve as incredible examples of what it means to be a G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™.

I live in Puerto Rico, and I love my country, but I also love traveling and seeing the world. I’ve been able to travel to—and make friends in—a lot of cool places like Texas and Peru, but the reason behind my trips abroad might surprise you. I don’t need to hop on a plane to see my family, and I don’t travel just to go on vacation and have fun. Most of my traveling has been because of science! I am a Puerto Rican scientist, and I have attended and won science fairs all over.

If I hadn’t been a Girl Scout, I don’t know that I would’ve had the tools to take my scientific findings and present them clearly and with confidence. I know that not all students have the benefit of this kind of training—and that a lot more of them could use it. Especially in Puerto Rico. There was a time when I was looking around at the other students who are doing well in science fairs, and I realized I was one of very few Puerto Ricans out there…if not the only one!

For my Girl Scout Gold Award project, I decided to do something about that. I wanted other students to have the chance to see the world and to excel at science, just like I was. After all, as technology becomes more and more a part of our lives, more and more jobs are going to require STEM skills. And my country needs to be a part of that.

So I started looking at why more young people from Puerto Rico weren’t competing at high levels in international science fairs, and I realized that was a gap in training and support. Puerto Rican students weren’t going as far as they could in science because of a few details they were missing. Many students don’t realize they need to emphasize that they have a university backing them or helping them with research, or they forget to emphasize exactly why their project is important when they’re presenting. It’s not at all that they’re not good at science!

I decided to create a nonprofit for students who are interested in science but maybe don’t have all the resources they need. And now I have a website through which students can contact me for help, and I then connect them with what they need, like experts in the specific area of science they’re interested in, or colleges that might be able to help. We also have workshops on how to do scientific investigation on an international level.

In just two years’ time, my nonprofit has helped more than 200 students, and last year we had two students attend an international science fair in Peru. One of them even won third place all around, and another got their project published in a Mexican science magazine! I love taking the leadership skills I learned through Girl Scouts and sharing them with other young people. After all, children and young people might make up only 20 percent of our population, but they are 100 percent of our future.