Eleven South Bay Girl Scouts earned top honors at a socially distanced ceremony at Liberty Station on June 12. In total, 87 local young women reached this highest level of the Girl Scout experience by earning the Girl Scout Gold Award.
Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award by demonstrating accomplishments in leadership, community service, career planning, and personal development. Each girl chooses a local or global issue she cared deeply about, thoroughly investigates the issue, creates a detailed plan to address it, recruits others to help her execute it, and take steps to ensure its sustainability.
“Just five percent of eligible Girl Scouts nationwide earn Gold Awards, so we are very proud of these outstanding young women,” said Carol Dedrich, CEO of Girl Scouts San Diego in a press release. “This achievement will help them distinguish themselves in the college admissions process, become eligible for college scholarships, and enlist in the military at a higher pay grade.”
Amanda Becerra, 19, from Chula Vista, is a 2020 graduate of Olympian High School, now attending Northern Arizona University as a Parks and Recreation Management major. From Troop 5344, Amanda created a presentation about the issues of missing and exploited children for parents of elementary school children.
Making her presentation sharable and teaching other teens how to use it, she provided parents and caregivers with tips and tools to help keep children safe and details on what to do if a child is missing.
Madison Bianes, 18, from Chula Vista focused on the worldwide
issue of malnourishment in children, explaining how a poor diet for children affects their health later in life in a series of workshops where teens and young adults explored cultures around the world, especially in underprivileged areas. A Girl Scout in Troop 5242 for 13 years, Madison is a 2021 graduate of Bonita Vista High School and now studies Ecosystem Management at UC Berkley.
Maitte Rodriguez, 17, of Chula Vista’s Troop 5912 staged a series of outdoor events and presentations addressing the lack of knowledge about bees and other native pollinators for children and adults in hopes to educate people about the significant role of local pollinators. Maitte plans to become an RN after graduating Hilltop High School next year.
Kathleen Santacruz,19, of Chula Vista Troop 5344 raised awareness of the oppression of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) by partnering with the National Conflict Resolution Center and cohosting virtual workshops on how to become better allies for these communities. Kathleen also educated sixth and seventh grade Girl Scouts of the importance of voting to women and the BIPOC communities. A 2020 alum of Bonita Vista High School, she is an aspiring civil rights attorney studying political science at UC Santa Barbara.
Alyssa Toledo,18, of Eastlake is a 10 year scout of Troop 5567 and is now a lifetime Girl Scout member. Through a series of online workshops, she educated people on how to act responsibly during a pandemic and how to sew face masks, working majorly with third through twelfth graders. She then partnered with Life Changers Ministries to reach audiences in Japan. Alyssa is a Woodrow Wilson High School graduate studying cognitive studies at UC Davis, planning to become a pediatric psychiatrist.
Carina Lutz, 18, of Eastlake is a freshman at the University of Arizona studying to become an occupational therapist. From Troop 5109, Carina mitigated the effects that distance learning and poor student-teacher engagement has on young children by creating “esSTEAM,” an online STEM tutoring network for middle school girls of all backgrounds. Designed to help them find their voices, she used Google Meet to tutor girls during weekly sessions, documenting her project via a website, Instagram, and a blog.
Alyna Boyd, 16, is an Eastlake High School Senior who wants to be a physician. Coming from Troop 6114, Alyna noticed that thousands of notebooks with unused paper discarded at the end of each school year. After researching the environmental impact of paper consumption, she founded the Paper Pathways Project, and recruited schoolmates to re-purpose paper into new spiral notebooks for students with limited financial resources and created and educational video on YouTube.
Vanessa Sullivan, 17, from Troop 5287 is an Eastlake High School senior who plans on a career in electrical engineering. With the pandemic affecting the number of outdoor activities for children, she created 150 boxes providing second and third graders at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School with “recess at home.” Each box included items donated by Heart Rate Monitors USA, the city of Chula Vista, and community members. Vanessa also held virtual presentations to second and third graders, Girl Scout troops, and her peers about the importance of outdoor play and philanthropy.
Brooke Cote, 17, attends Eastlake High School and plans to apply to Baylor University to study psychology. In her final year with Troop 5057, Brook’s love of playing band music inspired her to spark that interest in young people so they would pursue music in middle and high school, by providing a series of afterschool band classes for Olympic View Elementary School students. When the pandemic hit, she switched to working individually with one of her students and recruited other high school musicians to help her make instructional videos available on YouTube.
Thaily Romero,18, recently graduated from Chula Vista Learning Community Charter High School and will study marketing this year at San Diego City College. From Troop 5912 in Otay Mesa, Thaily included lessons about heritage in the summer dance camps she hosted for 7-12-year-old girls in low-income communities, practicing folkloric dance skills and learning to honor ancestors through dance.
Jaddin Thomas, 19, from National City’s Troop 6058 is a sophomore at UC Merced and a 2020 graduate of High Tech High Chula Vista. Jaddin created a six-week course for middle school students on how the law of attraction can impact future ambitions. She recruited successful professions in National City for panel presentation and taught young Boys and Girls Club members how the law of attraction can help develop courage and strength.
Girl Scouts is the world’s best leadership development organization for girls (#BestPlace4Girls). Through programs focused on the outdoors, STEM, life skills, outdoor adventure, and entrepreneurship, Girl Scouts prepares girls for a lifetime of leadership.
All girls in grades K-12 and adult volunteers are welcome to join. For information about Girl Scouting opportunities, visit sdgirlscouts.org.