Submitted by Eliana Wackerman
Did you know there are about 1.9 million young women in Girl Scouts of America and 95,000 of them will earn their Gold Award? Yes, those 95,000 young women will embark on the journey of a lifetime that will make them excited, frustrated, proud, and most importantly grateful to be a part of Girl Scouts of America.
Let me introduce myself. My name is Eliana Wackerman and I am a Girl Scout, a Lifetime Member, actually. I am a junior at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and I received my Gold Award in May 2014 in my hometown, Colorado Springs. My journey to the Gold Award started thirteen years before, in 2001. I was just a small five year old enrolled in kindergarten who wore a blue smock and earned petals by completing different tasks; in other words, I was a Daisy Girl Scout. I had watched my older brother, Ethan, partake in different activities through Boy Scouts of America, and with him becoming an Eagle Scout, I joined him in terms of being in the top 5% of all scouts by earning the highest awards available to us.
There were some rough times in my scouting career. My troop dwindled in size as I progressed in age, and Girl Scouts became something all my friends stopped doing. There were times when I was not sure I wanted to continue, but thanks to my amazing parents, especially my mom (who became my Juliette leader), I persevered. In seventh grade, I was the only one left in my troop. I became a Juliette, but this did not stop me. I earned my Bronze and Silver Awards, joined my local council’s planning committee, was voted the council’s Vice President, responsible for leading and training younger girl scouts, and was selected as a Generation WOW Girl Scout celebrating 100 years of Girl Scouts across the USA.
My Gold Award was executed at Evans Army Community Hospital on Fort Carson. I proposed and successfully completed the project of hand painting 32 murals on the glass windows of the Pediatric Clinic to help small children feel more comfortable. Jaclyn Drummond, a friend from high school and an Army brat (just like me), helped me paint all 32 educational and colorful murals. The pictures illustrated different categories from fruits and vegetables to the four seasons to the Colorado Flag with the Denver skyline. Each picture had its name painted below so children could enjoy the pictures and practice reading. I am happy to say all 32 glass panes filled with these vibrant images are still intact today and can be seen from inside and outside the clinic.
Receiving my Gold Award was no easy feat, but looking back on that process today almost three years later, I know that I am the person I am today because of it. Girl Scouts taught me from a young age about finances, leadership, compassion, and service, but my Gold Award made me put all the values Girl Scouts had instilled in me and all the skills I had learned from the badges I earned into a real life situation because it was certainly not practice. The process of earning a Gold Award allowed me to grow as a young woman. It was the first time that I got to take my own original idea, propose it to not only a Girl Scout panel but to other professionals as well, and then implement the plan. As a business major in college, I can without a doubt say that hands on experience like that is hard to come by when you are not even a legal adult at the time. The project allowed me to be a planner, a salesperson, a marketing specialist, a delegator, an accountant, and a community member all at once. I use the experience in these positions in my life now as a college student, on an everyday basis.
My Gold Award started my passion to help children across the world. Now, I work as an intern for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and am the Executive Director for St. Jude Up ’til Dawn at LSU, a collegiate organization that raises funds so that no family ever has to pay a single penny for their child’s treatment, or anything else at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The planning, financing, and creativity of my project allowed me to recognize my interest in business, and guided me to the major I am currently studying-general business. I am also the proud Co-Founder and Co-President of Score A Friend at LSU, a Unified Friendship club that promotes friendship between all abilities! We work closely with Special Olympics of Louisiana, and a young woman in Colorado.
You might ask how does a club at a college in Louisiana connect with a young woman in Colorado? Two words: Gold Award. Sarah Griechen founded Score A Friend Incorporated for her Girl Scout Gold Award, and because I am a Gold Award recipient I just happened to be looking at what the next line of young women were completing for their projects. I cannot describe what an amazing impact Sarah’s project has had on my life, my college’s life, or my community’s life, but it is all for the better. Without the Gold Award, I would have never met Sarah or her life-changing organization, or be able to say that my freshman college roommate (a Floridian Gold Award recipient) and I founded the first collegiate chapter of Score A Friend Inc. at 1:00 in the morning on a curious scroll through present-day Gold Awards. My life would be completely different without this award, and I will never regret going for the Gold and achieving the highest award available to a Girl Scout.
I want to give you girls who are reading this some advice: GO FOR THE GOLD! The skills, experiences, and unforeseeable outcomes that come with earning your Gold Award are priceless. High School will be gone in a matter of four short years, but the benefits of the Gold Award will last you a lifetime. Find your passion, and implement an everlasting project in your community to share that passion with others. I promise you, you will look back at that project and realize it changed your life for the better. Join the five percent of women who have earned their Gold Award, and change the world. All Girl Scouts have an invisible bond, but all Gold Award Recipient Girl Scouts have a tangible and physical bond that people across your state, your nation, and your world can see and appreciate. Do not pass up that opportunity, because the world needs you and so does the project idea that is circulating in your mind. I cannot wait to see all the amazing projects you implement in the years to come! Love Purple, Live (Your) Gold (Award) and Geaux Tigers!
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