New York, N.Y. — Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) is proud to announce the 2014 Young Women of Distinction, the highest honor in Girl Scouting. These 10 inspirational Girl Scouts have received their Gold Award and were selected among over 200 applicants for their dedicated efforts to better their communities and activate change in the world by creating and facilitating "Take Action" projects.
"Being named a National Young Woman of Distinction is the highest honor a girl can earn through Girl Scouts, and it is emblematic of her vision, resolve, and commitment to putting her skills to work to make the world a better place," said Anna Maria Chávez, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA. "These girls have demonstrated remarkable leadership at just 16 or 17 years old, and what they have accomplished is extraordinary. The entire Girl Scout Movement is so proud of them and everything they have achieved."
This year, GSUSA received a record-breaking number of submissions from Girl Scouts across the nation, their Take Action projects tackling a broad spectrum of important issues, from green energy to gender-balanced leadership to sex trafficking. These young women had the courage to dream big and the persistence to make their dreams a reality.
The Kappa Delta Foundation generously provided $50,000 in scholarships for these extraordinary young women. Each recipient will receive $5,000 to support their college education. This year's recipients will also be honored at Girl Scouts of the USA's 2014 national convention in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Girl Scouts of the USA's 2014 Young Women of Distinction
- Morgan Serventi from Girl Scouts Arizona Cactus Pine
Morgan researched, prototyped, and developed an alternative source of fuel powered by animal droppings using a device called methane bio-digesters. The "Power of Poo" program uses the digesters to generate sustainable sources of light, heat, and energy created with little effort and built by men and women out of simple materials when supplies are scarce. This program has been adopted by a Navajo Indian reservation in Arizona and the Wamba tribe in Kenya.
- Laura Robert from Girl Scouts of Caribe
Laura's project was centered on providing a safe space for victims of child abuse. As a result of Laura's efforts, thirty schools throughout Puerto Rico implemented a child-abuse prevention campaign.
- Monique Tinglin from Girl Scouts of Greater New York
Monique's project advocated for decriminalization of victims of sex trafficking in the United States and Kenya. She also raised awareness of the commercial sexual exploitation of children by facilitating and hosting a conference.
- Julia Bache from Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana
As a result of her project, Julia successfully listed Buck Creek Rosenwald School, a historically segregated school in Shelby County, Kentucky, on the National Register of Historic Places and is the youngest person in Kentucky to nominate a site. She also created an exciting educational traveling exhibit about the Rosenwald Schools that tours throughout Kentucky and features historical stories from various school alumni.
- Haley Hanson from Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails
Haley created an extraordinary robotics program for children who are hearing impaired and ensured its sustainability by getting four schools to implement the program.
- Varsha Sathappan from Girl Scouts of Northern California
Varsha initiated construction of a women's ward at the Vallal Mena Hospital, a small out-patient facility in Kodikkottai, India, and helped to expand it into an in-patient medical facility, which resulted in an increase in treatments and services for patients in the community and neighboring villages. Her project raised awareness about the villagers' needs and inspired the local bank to donate an ambulance so that people had access to Vallal Mena hospital as well as to the larger hospital that was 40 kilometers away.
- Paige Young from Northeast Kansas and Northwest Missouri
Paige started "Hope for Haiti," which encourages education and vocational sewing sessions for orphans. She designed and created dozens of backpacks, made out of recycled blue sterile wrap from hospitals, which were filled with school supplies to be delivered to children in Haiti. She also introduced a program enabling Haitians to create their own goods and contribute to their country's economic recovery.
- Catherine Riordan from Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio
Catherine received two provisional patents for building wheelchair-accessible picnic tables, sensory boards for wheelchair trays, and custom benches that allow differently-abled people to enjoy the outdoors and feel like a part of the community.
- Anna Krauss from Girl Scouts of Suffolk County
Anna lobbied to change the auditory test requirements for deaf students in the New York State Education System. As a result, the state revised the Test Access Accommodations Guidelines for Students with Disabilities document so it would offer hearing impaired students the ability to use written text during the listening section of the state examination.
- Camille Alyce Borders from Girl Scouts of Western Ohio
Camille organized a network of exceptional political women called "Girls Run the World: Political Activism in Young Women" and stressed the importance of gender-balanced leadership in politics.
The entries for Young Women of Distinction were reviewed by Girl Scouts of the USA staff and an external selection board made up of funders and partners, including the following: 100kin10, Discovery Education, Kappa Delta, MetLife, NYAS, Teach for America, and The Cricket Island Foundation.
If you're interested in learning more about these incredible Girl Scouts, please contact their local council.
About Girl Scouts of the USA
Founded in 1912, Girl Scouts of the USA is the preeminent leadership development organization for girls, with 3.2 million girl and adult members worldwide. Girl Scouts is the leading authority on girls' healthy development, and builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. The organization serves girls from every corner of the United States and its territories. Girl Scouts of the USA also serves American girls and their classmates attending American or international schools overseas in 90 countries. For more information on how to join, volunteer or reconnect with, or donate to Girl Scouts, call 800-GSUSA-4-U (212-852-8000) or visit www.girlscouts.org.