Are you a Gold Award recipient? We want to hear your story! We may feature you on our website so that your service can inspire other girls as they pursue their high awards. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and read on for just a couple incredible Gold Award stories.
Valerie Thomzik, Tomahawk, WI
Lifetime member Valerie Thomzik is an animal science major at UW-River Falls, with an emphasis on equine management. Set to graduate in December of 2013, Valerie is busy training horses, completing labs, riding, and working at a local stable.
In 2010, Valerie earned her Girl Scout Gold Award by building a much-needed bridge over Lake Olivetti at Camp Birch Trails, creating a shorter path from main camp to Birch Point, which holds a ropes course and tree identification area that had gone mostly unused before the bridge was constructed.
Throughout the course of her project, Valerie procured donations and gathered a crew of volunteers, whom she led to build the bridge together. She notes that her troop leader and her dad played a huge role in helping her reach her goals.
“At the time, I didn’t think of it as a huge project at all. It looked more like a short-term goal and a step-by-step process. I just wanted to do it. All I can say for girls out there looking to earn their Gold Awards is that you have to find something you’re passionate about. You have to love it. If you do that, it’ll make a real impact.”
Nikitha Murali, Green Bay, WI
Nikitha Murali is a lifetime Girl Scout who is studying comparative human development at the University of Chicago and plans on attending medical school in the future. In the summer of 2011 as a Girl Scout Ambassador, Nikhitha traveled to India with two goals in mind: to help a village in need, and to earn her Girl Scout Gold Award.
Nikhitha’s Gold Award project included organizing a day-long health camp for residents of Pallampaakum, a rural Indian village. Her first steps were to raise funds and to find contacts to get the project off the ground; she connected with two Rotary clubs and a nonprofit organization in India and a doctor who helped Nikhitha determine the most prevalent medical conditions in the area.
After the initial planning was completed and the day of her health camp approached, Nikhitha left for Pallampaakum. The camp was a huge hit; over 200 villagers visited the number of doctors on site: pediatricians, gynecologists, and dentists, and everyone left with a care kit of slippers, mosquito nets, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and other medications that are easily accessible at American drugstores but that Pallampaakum residents don’t have access to.
“Girl Scouting has exposed me to unique things and challenged me to see the big picture. At the health camp, I realized how much the little gestures can mean to people. How much every little thing you can do makes it all worth it.”
Marguerite Gilbertson, Eau Claire, WI
Lifetime member Marguerite Gilbertson is an art education student at UW- Eau Claire who is still active in Girl Scouts as a volunteer and mentor. In April 2011, Marguerite completed her Girl Scout Gold Award project by hosting an event called Free 2 Be Me at the local junior high for the following year’s freshman girls. The event focused on body image and how women are portrayed in the media, leading to many girls having unrealistic expectations of what they should look like and how they value themselves.
Marguerite assembled a team of peers to help her present, and hired a keynote speaker, Hilary Bilbrey, Founder and CEO of Inspired By Family. After Bilbrey’s speech, the girls broke off into a girls-only session led by Marguerite. The girls discussed friendship, peer pressure, body image, the media, and what to expect once they start high school.
One girl described the media impact in her life. “What we see on TV and in ads isn’t realistic… I know that, but it’s hard to not feel like that’s the only way we can look to feel beautiful,” she noted.
According to the Girl Scout Research Institute, 89 percent of teen girls say the fashion industry places a lot of pressure on them to be thin. Marguerite explained how she dealt with that pressure; after struggling with an eating disorder for over a year, she learned the difference between “healthy” and “skinny.”
“There’s a big difference,” Marguerite said. “I’m doing this project because I wish someone was there to tell me, ‘You are better off if you realize you’re okay just being who you really are.’”