To explain why being a Gold Award Girl Scout means so much to me, I have to tell you a little about my childhood. When I was in third grade, I went for a routine checkup at my doctor’s office only to learn that my blood pressure was incredibly high. After a lot of tests and waiting, we found out that the arteries going to my kidneys were too narrow, and that’s what was causing trouble.
They put me on medication, and five years later, I flew across the country to have surgery that would fix the problem. I had to spend three months in the hospital and take another six months off school. Being 13 is a tricky time in any girl’s life, so you might imagine what I was going through. But the other girls in my Girl Scout troop sent me care packages, letters, cards, and games to keep my spirits up the whole time. Knowing they hadn’t forgotten about me, and that they couldn’t wait for me to come back and rejoin the troop, made such a difference. I don’t know what I would have done without them.
Once I was better, I wanted to have the fullest Girl Scout experience possible, and that meant going for the Girl Scout Gold Award. Finding a focus for my project was easy: I wanted to help educate kids about high blood pressure and ensure that more kids get their blood pressure checked so that any issues—like the one I had—can be detected early, possibly saving lives along the way. While doing research to figure out how to get my project off the ground, I came across the World Health Organization and other groups that deal with public health and public policy. Inspired, I started an organization to teach young people around the world about hypertension, and because of my efforts, several schools have started offering routine blood pressure tests.
I’m currently a student at Wellesley College, and I’ve been accepted to study at the University of Cambridge in England next semester. Recently, I learned about a scholarship specifically for Gold Award Girl Scouts who want to study abroad, and I’m applying for it this spring. That scholarship would make a big difference, and I wouldn’t even be eligible if it wasn’t for my Gold Award!
I’m excited about where the world will take me and for what role I might be able to have in making the world a better and healthier place. Of course, there will be hurdles ahead, new challenges, and a lot of work for sure, but with the skills and experience I gained as a Gold Award Girl Scout, and with the support of my former Girl Scout troop members (they’re all over the country at different colleges, but we stay in touch!), I know I can do anything I set my mind to.
— Shreya Huilgol
I gathered a policy summit of community leaders so everyone could make changes.
The more people I met as a Gold Award Girl Scout, the more opportunities I got.