This Gold Award Girl Scout is Changing the Face of Computer Science Around the World

This Gold Award Girl Scout is Changing the Face of Computer Science Around the World

Becoming a Gold Award Girl Scout definitely changed the way the world sees me. It had a huge impact on my college application (I got into my first-choice school—Stanford), and I got more than $15,000 in scholarships. But more than that—earning my Gold Award changed my mentality and the way I see myself.

I’m really interested in coding and tech, but there’s a huge gender gap in the STEM fields, meaning girls like me are in the minority. I wanted to change that. For my Gold Award, I started a Catwalk Coding camp where young girls learn how to code light-up accessories and show them off at a runway fashion show. I thought the main result would be that at least a few of the girls would be interested enough to learn more, but the bigger personal takeaway was that the girls were really hungry for role models in this field—and that I could be, or maybe actually already was, one of them.

I’d never seen myself as a role model, but suddenly there were younger girls looking up to me, wanting to learn from me. It made me want to work harder and be better. I’d never, ever felt like that before, and that feeling inspired me to do more.

After becoming a Gold Award Girl Scout, the skills and lessons I’d learned along the way helped me earn a grant to host another Catwalk Coding session for 100 girls in Mexico City. I met so many amazing people and got even more excited to help close the gender gap worldwide. Most recently, I got a different grant to run the program over the summer at my original Girl Scout council in Kansas. We’re going to give priority placement to refugee girls to help give them a better future in their new country. That’s something I’m really excited about.

This new “role model mentality” doesn’t just change what I do out in the world, it changes what I do for myself, too. I’m halfway through my first year as a computer science major at Stanford, and I’ll be perfectly honest, it’s not always easy! I struggled a lot in the beginning, and there was a moment when I considered changing my major. I mean, you look around the lecture hall and maybe one third of the students are girls. Then when we break up into sections led by older, more advanced students, only 3 out of 13 sections are run by women.  

But what keeps me going isn’t just that I love this field—which of course I do—it’s knowing that there are so many girls back home who are looking up to me, who have decided that if I can go into computer science, they can do it, too. It’s important that I follow through and try my best. In fact, I want to do so well in this class that I can become one of those section leaders in years to come, making girls and young women feel more welcome in this space.

Every once in a while when I’m on campus, I’ll think, “How did I get here?!” But then I remember, it’s because Girl Scouts encouraged me to dream big and then showed me I had what it took to get it done. My leaders and the whole process of becoming a Gold Award Girl Scout put me on the right track, and there’s no looking back!