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Young Women to Watch


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A young woman who has earned her Gold Award has become a community leader in the truest sense. Her accomplishments reflect outstanding leadership and civic engagement. Gold Award recipients are more ambitious, placing more emphasis on a successful career, financial security, and being a leader; and are more likely to believe they are achieving their ambitions in life. It’s not only Girl Scouts who understand the value of the Gold Award. Some universities and colleges offer scholarships unique to award recipients, and girls who enlist in the U.S. armed forces may receive advanced rank in recognition of their achievements.

Elena Boyd, Tempe

Successful Blood Donation: Ironing Out the Detail

In 10th grade, Elena Boyd became old enough to give blood at her school’s blood drives. She learned that many girls who tried to donate were turned down for low iron, and most of her peers didn’t know how to improve their iron levels. She brought together a hematologist and a United Blood Services representative to create an informational video about how diet changes can raise blood iron levels. Elena’s video is being shared online. She will be using it to help her fellow Chandler Prep students, and the greater community, be better prepared for the next blood drive. Elena has been a Girl Scout for eight years and is a Silver awardee. In the fall, Elena will be a college freshman studying Physics and Music, aiming at a career in sound design.

Preston Buck, Paradise Valley

The Noble Knapsack Project

Preston Buck has been a Girl Scout for 11 years and is interested in women’s rights and serving the homeless. During a church mission trip to help homeless populations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle, she realized homeless women face unique challenges during their menstrual cycle. For her Gold Award project, Preston collected 13,000 feminine products through donation boxes at local high schools and an Amazon wish list. She assembled over 300 "Noble Knapsacks" and distributed them to shelters and women living on the streets in Phoenix and the four other west coast cities. The project continues today through online donation wish lists connected to Phoenix area shelters. Preston learned real-world problem-solving skills working out distribution logistics and timing across the five cities. Preston is now a freshman at UC Berkeley studying Sustainability and hopes to provide feminine products to homeless women in the Bay Area through a campus club, #Happy Period.

Sophia Diaz, Phoenix

Reading Buddy Program

Sophia Diaz discovered that Arizona has one of the lowest reading test scores in the nation. She created a reading buddy program, pairing kindergarteners with high school students for one-on-one reading and activity time, building a more positive attitude towards reading. Through working on her Gold Award, she learned how to overcome challenges when things did not go as planned. Along with her Gold Award, Sophia has earned her Silver Award and has been in Girl Scouts since second grade. Her passions include science and math. She will be attending college in the fall to study microbiology and physics.

Jenny Dowd, Cave Creek

Desert Awareness Park Entrance Sign

Jenny Dowd's hometown of Cave Creek has a place called Desert Awareness Park. She discovered the town was hesitant to spend maintenance dollars on the park because they felt it was not being used enough by the community. She campaigned to build a welcoming sign, for park guests to increase park usage. After months of planning, fundraising, and committee meetings, she was able to build her sign this past year. Jenny has been a Girl Scout for 12 years and a Silver Award recipient. She is a senior at Pinnacle High School and will be going to Northern Arizona University this fall to major in forestry.

Angela Foley,

Westwood Model United Nations Conference

Angela Foley believes the Model United Nations (MUN) program helped her become more passionate and knowledgeable about world issues and work on skills like public speaking. When she realized fellow classmates were often unaware of or confused by current events and global affairs, it sparked the idea for her Gold Award. To get more students involved in MUN as a supplement to their education, she put together a conference catering to new and prospective members. After months of planning and coordination, Angela hosted a well-received event at her school for five area schools. The schedule included new member coaching and beginner-level research and diplomacy workshops. She also updated existing reference materials and hosted them online to be easily accessible in the future. A Girl Scout for 10 years, Angela is a senior at Westwood High School and plans to attend ASU Barrett, The Honors College, to study Environmental Engineering and Public Policy.

Diana Heinze, Phoenix

Hoot Homes

A Girl Scout for 11 years, Diana Heinze has earned the Bronze and Silver Awards. Her love for owls and her Environmental Science course, a collaboration between ASA, ASU and the Audubon Society, inspired her project. Diana took action to save the Burrowing Owls, endangered due to loss of habitat. Her project involved reinforcing the Burrowing Owl’s burrows by covering them with dirt and heavy rocks. After the burrows were stabilized the owls were released back into their homes. Diana wrote and illustrated a book about burrowing owls, how to protect their environment and developed a blog illustrating the progress of her project. Diana continues to volunteer in Girl Scouts and was a camp counselor (aka Spooky) at The Parsons Leadership Center last summer. She studies digital media/animation at Phoenix College and plans to transfer to the Academy of Art in San Francisco.

Holly-Anne Hubbard, Buckeye

Color a Smile

Holly-Anne Hubbard has always loved to make people smile, especially her Grandpa Burt. When he became home-bound and depressed, Holly-Anne would draw him a picture to cheer him up. Her Gold Award project, Color a Smile, brings colorful children’s drawings to home-bound individuals. In one year, she collected 7,434 pictures and had over 5,000+ children participate from 15 schools and three churches. To date, she has collected over 34,000 pictures and is the largest single contributor to the program. Select elementary schools will continue to educate youth about those that are isolated and how small gestures can make a difference. During this project, she developed strong organizational, leadership, coordination and presentation skills. Holly-Anne is currently her school’s valedictorian and plans to major in Engineering at the University of Arizona.

Aleayah Hughes, Chandler

Resource Room for Therapy Clinic

Growing up, Aleayah Hughes, whose mother was a speech therapist, became familiar with the difficulties parents faced when caring for a child on the autistic spectrum. To achieve her Gold Award, she decided to take action and make it easier for families to connect with information resources. She created a "Resource Room" at Spotleson Therapy Clinic, which listed different types of accommodations and events for families with an autistic family member. The resource room is maintained by clinic staff. A Girl Scout for 10 years, she plans on attending ASU in the fall and hopes to continue Girl Scouting throughout college.

Kaitlyn Janssen, Gilbert

Be Kind and Recycle Your Line

“Be Kind and Recycle your Line” focused on creating awareness among Gilbert community residents as well as fishermen/women who were unintentionally destroying habitats with monofilament fishing line. Kaitlyn Janssen was inspired to pursue this for her Gold Award because of her passion for preserving and protecting wildlife. Her project raised public awareness of the hazards of monofilament use through the placement of receptacles at local lakes. The receptacles provided a safe place for line disposal and opportunities for public education. Kaitlyn has been in Girl Scouts for 13 years and has earned both the Bronze and Silver awards. When she graduates high school, she plans to major in Biomedical Engineering at ASU.

Makena Lanier, Buckeye

Children’s Storage Room Beautification

Makena Lanier grew up in the youth ministry and loves working with younger children. When her church obtained a new building, it was to become the children’s learning center. As she assisted with Sunday School and helped set up the classrooms, she became aware of an additional unused room.. For her Gold Award project, Makena proposed using the space to organize and store all church documents, learning supplies, and equipment for fundraising and fellowship events. Completing this project was especially rewarding because of the church elders’ enthusiasm, and the younger kids who helped beautify the hallway and storage room. Through it all, Makena has developed a new level of leadership, the power of delegation, and learned to advocate for her vision, herself, and others. Makena is a senior at Buckeye Union High School and plans to attend Estrella Mountain Community College for prerequisites, then ASU. Makena aspires to be a registered pediatric nurse.

Caitlyn Lopez, Tolleson

It’s Hip to Snip

Caitlyn Lopez’s love for animals inspired her Gold Award project designed to educate the community on the importance and benefits of spaying/ neutering their pets. She also wanted to help those in financial need to spay/neuter their pets. She provided community education through fliers and information days on the health benefits of spaying and neutering, how to get financial assistance for spay and neutering. She also held a blanket drive so cats adopted at Maricopa County Animal Care and Control could be taken home in a blanket. She hoped that by providing a blanket, the number of cats returned to the shelter would be reduced. Caitlyn has been a Girl Scout for 12 years and has earned her Bronze and Silver Award. After high school, she hopes to pursue a degree in Mass Communications with an emphasis in Journalism.

Danielle Manella, Chandler

Uniforms United and Goal Keeper Safety

Danielle Manella has been a Girl Scout for 12 years and has earned her Bronze and Silver Awards. Danielle's project combined her love of soccer with her passion for helping others. She addressed two issues: the need for soccer uniforms in third world countries and the limited availability of goalkeeper safety resources. She led a uniform drive with San Tan Soccer Club and donated the 190 jerseys she collected to the EVS Smile Foundation, an organization in Haiti striving to build young girls’ self-esteem through sports.. Then Danielle led the creation of a globally-accessible instructional video that teaches safety techniques and preventative measures to protect goalkeepers from injury. Through her efforts, she learned the importance of persistence and follow-up communication when leading a project. Danielle starts her Bachelor of Science in Nursing the fall of 2018 and is finalizing her college selection.

Shannon McBreen, Glendale

Improving Care for Kids at DCS

Shannon McBreen was inspired to improve the environment for children taken into emergency custody by the Department of Child Safety. She completed a major reorganization of the room where children stay until they can be relocated. For this project, she commissioned a painting of the Grand Canyon for the room and put together more than 50 bags of full-sized toiletries for the children in custody. She was able to overcome the challenges of working with ever-changing agency liaisons and communications lags through her persistence and grit that resulted in a more welcoming environment for children. Shannon spent 13 years as a Girl Scout and earned both her Bronze and Silver Awards. She is currently a freshman at ASU’s Polytechnic Campus studying Mechanical Systems Engineering.

Maddie O'Rourke, Scottsdale

Storied Lives, Scottsdale Chapter

Maddie O’Rourke grew up with her grandparents. An elderly neighbor, named Jill, often entertained Maddie and her brother with stories. Maddie’s Silver Award project encouraged Girl Scout troops to adopt seniors to reduce their loneliness and ensure youth developed a relationship with a senior. As Maddie entered high school, she became more concerned with elderly isolation. When she learned about the Storied Lives program, she realized it combined her interest in storytelling with her continued concern and service to the elderly. For her Gold Award, Maddie paired teens with seniors at an assisted living facility for interviews about their lives. These stories were made into a book and shared at a special ceremony at the facility, attended by family and other residents. Through this project, Maddie increased her leadership skills and learned how to manage large groups of people. Maddie has been a Girl Scout for 10 years. She hopes to have a career in the fashion industry.

Genevieve Quenon, Peoria

Garden Club and Curriculum

Genevieve Quenon has always loved nature, sustainability, and food. When she learned her high school building would be converted into a BASIS K-4 school in the same year she graduated, she decided to give the new students a parting gift. She built a 64 square foot garden for the elementary school and developed a curriculum for teaching young children about the environment and food cultivation. Genna’s garden curriculum is now available to every BASIS Primary school in Arizona and Texas. She has been a Girl Scout for 12 years and previously earned her Bronze Award. She is currently a freshman at ASU Barrett, The Honors College, majoring in filmmaking and marketing. She is also starting a garden of her own at her dorm.

Natalia Ramos, Gilbert

Buena Vida Dance Community Outreach

Natalia Ramos has always loved to dance and strongly believes everyone should have the opportunity to express themselves this way. When she learned her mother did not have the resources to dance as a child, it troubled her to realize this was something many children still experience. For her Gold Award project, she established a free afterschool dance and healthy living program for underprivileged children. Hosted at Bologna Elementary, attendees learn about dance, meditation and healthy eating. Natalia also created an online video lesson as well as a plan for fellow dancers to carry her leadership role forward. Witnessing the impact of this program on the participating children was most satisfying. Natalia has been a Girl Scout for 10 years, earned her Silver Award, and served on the GSACPC Board of Directors as a Girl Advisory Member. She is a senior at Perry High School and plans to attend NAU in the fall with a full tuition scholarship to study Hotel and Restaurant Management.

Fiala Richard, Glendale

Camouflage Quilts for the Military

Fiala Richard began Girl Scouts as a Daisy and has earned her Bronze and Silver Awards. For her Silver Award she learned how to sew and made 20 dresses to send to girls in Haiti. For her Gold Award project, Fiala used her sewing knowledge to create light-weight quilts for military personnel deployed in hot climates. She taught eight sewing classes to 57 people, who then helped make 105 quilts. Fiala had to overcome her shyness to teach these sewing classes and became more confident in her abilities. She learned that rather than having each person make a quilt from start to finish, it was more efficient to break up the tasks into a production line. Fiala is a high school sophomore who is homeschooled. She is interested in a career helping animals.

Emma Sar, Tempe

Books on a Stick

Emma Sar has been a Girl Scout for nine years. She is an avid reader and jumps at any chance to share her appreciation of reading, whether through book discussions, homework or reading to the toddlers whom she babysits. For her Gold Award, Emma was inspired to spread her love of reading by expanding the access to books. She did this by building three Little Free Libraries in her community. Little Free Libraries are mailbox-like boxes where books can be dropped off to share or picked up to read. Emma is a junior at Arizona School for the Arts in Phoenix. She studies theater, history, and French. In college, Emma wants to study history with a focus on gender and sexuality. In the future, she aspires to be a gynecologist due to her passion for women's rights and reproductive health.

Ally Shott, Peoria

All Star Girls

Ally Shott has always cared deeply about empowering young girls to reach their full potential and saw an opportunity to make a difference when her sister was diagnosed with autism. Ally's Gold Award project is a website dedicated to helping young girls with autism navigate every-day struggles, such as making friends and taking care of their bodies. The site also provides resources for parents of autistic children, educators and advocates. The project was especially rewarding for Ally because of the positive feedback from her mentors, and the autism community across the Valley. It also helped her better understand an issue she’s known most of her life and make a positive impact on it. Through her journey, she realized the amount of hard work needed to make her voice heard, and to give a voice to others who may not feel heard. Ally is a freshman at ASU Barrett, The Honors College, studying Environmental Design and Sustainability. She aspires to a career in sustainable Architecture.

Tessa Spangler, Mesa

Painting Pottery

Tessa Spangler has loved working with clay ever since elementary school. When she learned that many of the elementary school students in her community didn't have art classes she was inspired to take action. Tessa coordinated with local artists and As You Wish Pottery Painting Place to gather pottery supplies. She brought clay to the Child Crisis Center for the children to play with and mold shapes. She also brought fired pots to the Boys and Girls Club which children painted, then were fired and returned to them. In the future, these two organizations will work with As You Wish Pottery to continue these programs. Tessa is currently a senior at Westwood High School. She plans to study biochemistry in college, eventually aiming for a graduate degree in Neuroscience.

Ashaya Stewart, Phoenix

Fire Restoration

Tanner Chapel AME Church is the oldest African-American church in Arizona. In 2017, Tanner Chapel suffered fire damage from arson. Ashaya Stewart’s family has been part of the Tanner community for three generations. After the fire, she was inspired to help repair the damage. Her primary objective was to restore Fellowship Hall, a basement space used by many community groups that had suffered fire, smoke and water damage. For her Gold Award, Ashaya found vendors and volunteers to clean and paint Fellowship Hall, the kitchen, pantry and restrooms, and wax the floors, meeting several tight deadlines along the way. She also oversaw improvements to the popular community space, including carpeting and redoing the stage. Ashaya learned the importance of planning and follow-through, and gained more confidence in using her voice. A Girl Scout for seven years, Ashaya has earned both the Bronze and Silver Awards.

Kari Joy Thomas, Flagstaff

Flippin' Friends Flagstaff

Kari Joy Thomas was a Girl Scout for 14 years and completed her Bronze and Silver Awards. She has a great passion for gymnastics, both as a gymnast and a coach. For her Gold Award, she created Flippin' Friends Flagstaff, a program offering instruction for children with special needs. Ten youth took part in the program and Kari Joy found a new passion for supporting the special needs community. Through this project Kari developed many skills in how to lead change and realized working with and advocating for this community needed to be a part of her future. She is a freshman at the U of A Honors College studying Neuroscience and Cognitive Science. Kari hopes to go on to law school and enroll in a dual program to earn a PhD in Developmental Disabilities or Public Policy. Ultimately, she would like to act as an advocate, policy maker, and lawyer who represents and fights for the rights of the special needs community.

Interested in pursuing your Gold Award? Visit girlscoutsaz.org/go-gold for more information and resources to get started.