TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - It is the highest award a Girl Scout can achieve and eight Girl Scouts from Pima County have earned that honor.
The eight will receive their awards on Sunday, April 22 at the Girls and Women of Distinction ceremony, at the Scottish Rite in Downtown Tucson.
"Earning the Girl Scout Gold Award is truly a remarkable achievement, and these young women exemplify leadership in all its forms," said Debbie Rich, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona. "They saw a need in their communities and around the world and took action. Their projects include long-term sustainability plans that ensure their hard work will continue to make an impact for years to come. Each of these girls' extraordinary dedication, perseverance, and leadership is making the world, and our community, a better place."
The Gold Award is earned by less than six percent of Girl Scouts annually, and represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting, and challenges girls ages 14 to 17 to initiate meaningful, sustainable change in their communities through unique Take Action Projects that were created by the scouts themselves.
Through their unique Gold Award projects, each girl has engaged in leadership at the highest levels while taking on a community issue that she feels passionately about. Here are the winners and their projects:
- Sara Te: Earned her Gold Award by creating a music education series at six middle and elementary schools, including performances, presentations, and hands-on band clinics. She is a Mountain View High School senior and class of 2018 valedictorian.
- Kimberly Vance: Earned her Gold Award by forming an after-school mariachi club at her high school, then branching out to help local elementary and middle schools develop successful mariachi clubs of their own. She is a senior at University High School.
- Jaquelyn Gadziala: Earned her Gold Award with a project on mental health education, by partnering with Tucson Unified School District, Vail Unified School District, and Pima Community College to develop and facilitate lesson plans and workshops on wellness and self-care. She is a senior at Empire High School.
- Sophia Stine: Earned her Gold Award by partnering with St. Albans Episcopal Church and Preschool to create an educational desert walk that teaches students about native desert plants and animals. She is a junior at BASIS Tucson North.
- Adriana Chavez: Earned her Gold Award through a project addressing the lack of Hispanic organ donors in Arizona. She collaborated with the Donor Network of Arizona to create a PSA targeting Hispanic youth, and visited local schools and healthcare centers to spread awareness, educate the public, and register organ donors. She is a freshman at Catalina Foothills High School.
- Auburn Schmidt: Earned her Gold Award by exposing her communities in Tucson and in Los Angeles to the need for PTSD resources for military veterans, first responders, law enforcement, and service K9s. Her PTSD Awareness event had a turnout of nearly 300 people, and even saved a life, after a retired police officer who had intended to attempt suicide stumbled across the event and was inspired instead to seek out help through the resources Auburn shared in her presentation. She is a graduate of Capistrano Connections Academy in San Juan Capistrano, CA.
- Rebecca Shanks and Amber Firor: In a unique team effort, Rebecca and Amber worked together on their Gold Award, partnering with the Autism Society of Southern Arizona to introduce diversity to STEM education. It is an issue close to their hearts, since Amber herself has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Rebecca and Amber have been members of the same Girl Scout troop since they were Brownies, and also earned their Bronze and Silver Awards together. Now, to earn their Gold Awards, they have created a website complete with hands-on curriculum that teaches STEM concepts in an understandable way, as well as resources on post-secondary education opportunities for students with ASD. They are juniors at Canyon del Oro High School.
By earning the Gold Award, each of these extraordinary young women have become community leaders, with accomplishments reflecting leadership and citizenship skills that set them apart. Many universities and colleges offer scholarships unique to Gold Award Girl Scouts, and Gold Award Girl Scouts who enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces receive advanced rank in recognition of their achievements.