UPDATE: Since sharing her story, Cassie ran for public office in New Hampshire and was elected to the State House of Representatives. At age 19, she is the youngest female representative elected in the 2018 election cycle, and was recently profiled in a New York Times article on young people across the country who were elected to public office for the first time this year.
Today, I went to the New Hampshire senate floor and watched as three bills I helped write to protect girls from the horrors of child marriage were unanimously passed. If you’re wondering how a teenage girl like me ended up on the senate floor, I have two words for you: Girl Scouts.
From the time I was five, I’ve been going to Girl Scout meetings, setting up cookie booths, and heading away to camp with my troop. When we saw a badge we wanted, we earned it. When we saw a trip to Savannah, Georgia, we wanted to take, we worked toward it together.
From the outside, it might have looked like all fun and games—and believe me, it was fun!—but it was a whole lot more than that. Every troop meeting, every box of Thin Mints I sold taught me that there was absolutely nothing I couldn’t do if I set my mind to it. In Girl Scouts, you learn to dream big and try even bigger.
But a lot of people just don’t get that about Girl Scouts. Last year, when my bills first went to the New Hampshire House of Representatives, one of the lawmakers dismissed what I was trying to do, basically saying I was just some little Girl Scout—why should they change a law based on what I had to say? I wanted to tell him that I’m more than just a little girl selling cookies around his neighborhood. I’m a Girl Scout, and Girl Scouts are the leaders of today. We are future presidents. We are lawmakers—the majority of female senators and members of the House of Representatives are Girl Scout alums. We are unstoppable and we won’t be ignored.
I became a Gold Award Girl Scout for my work to change laws and protect girls against child marriage in my state—an issue that’s really personal to me, since both my grandmother and great-grandmother were child brides—but there are lots of amazing ways girls earn these awards. Last year, one girl developed technology that’s helping farmers here in the U.S. use less water on their crops, something that’s making a real impact on our environment. Another one started a menstrual hygiene education program and brought sustainable resources to a village in rural India where misconceptions about girls’ periods had kept them out of school. Because of her, girls who’d never had a shot at a real education are getting one. That’s life-changing.
There were lots of different organizations I could have been a part of when I was growing up, but Girl Scouts was and will always be the place for me. The thing is, lots of kids do projects to help their community. And those projects are nice, they really are. But at Girl Scouts, we change laws. We change the world.
That’s why even though I finished being a Girl Scout myself, I’m now a leader of a Daisy Girl Scout troop. Every fun project we do, every song we sing, every time we recite the Girl Scout promise and law is teaching them the same leadership skills I learned growing up, and giving them the tools they’ll use one day to stand up and do something big. I’m helping to raise up this next generation of leaders and I’m so excited to see how they’re going to change the world.
These Girl Scouts are fighting ignorance with kindness and offers of friendship.