Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council (GSSJC) announced that Angela Shipman, a student at the University of Houston, was named by Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) as a 2017 National Young Woman of Distinction, the organization’s most prestigious honor. GSUSA selects ten National Young Women of Distinction annually among candidates who have earned their Girl Scout Gold Award®, which represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouts.
Each year, thousands of girls in grades 9–12 nationwide are recognized as Gold Award Girl Scouts for transforming an idea and vision for change into an actionable plan with measurable, sustainable, and far-reaching impact at the local, national, and global levels. Approximately 5 percent of all eligible Girl Scouts earn their Gold Award each year—and just ten girls in this already-high-achieving group receive the National Young Woman of Distinction honor. Applications are judged by previous National Young Women of Distinction, leaders from a range of fields, GSUSA executives, and a representative from the Kappa Delta Foundation, which provides the honorees with college scholarships.
For her Gold Award project, Shipman launched Rewire Society, a movement to help eliminate stereotypes and embrace diversity. Shipman, who overcame crippling insecurity for most of her adolescence, was excited to incorporate her love of film and photography into her project. As part of her Gold Award project, she asked members of her community, friends and family a question each season about beauty standards. She took their responses and interpreted them through photography. In addition, she created a video that provided an overview of her project and learned HTML and CSS code that she used to create a website.
“Growing up as a Girl Scout enabled me to think critically about world problems; it showed me how to use my strengths to make an impact and how to work on my weaknesses to make me a better person,” said Shipman. “It gave me a platform to follow my passion and my dream that was my Gold Award project, Rewire Society, and ultimately led me down the path to being honored as a National Young Woman of Distinction.”
Last year marked the centennial of the Girl Scout Gold Award, celebrating millions of Girl Scouts past and present who have created, developed, and executed incredible “Take Action” projects to make the world a better place. Other standout Gold Award projects carried out by girls from GSSJC in recent years include the creation of a large, durable prep table, complete with storage and sink for Interfaith of The Woodlands’ Veggie Village that provides a convenient and central location for volunteers to wash and package the more than 4,000 pounds of produce annually and the development of an iOS app called Scuba Jive, a website and a social media (Facebook, Twitter) presence to raise awareness about pollution and the preservation of the world’s oceans. These projects exemplify the extraordinary leadership, grit, and collaborative efforts of Gold Award Girl Scouts as they lead like a G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ every step of the way.
Further, a new report from the Girl Scout Research Institute, The Girl Scout Impact Study (2017), confirms that participating in Girl Scouts helps girls develop key leadership skills they need to be successful in life. Compared to their non–Girl Scout peers, Girl Scouts are more likely to be leaders because they have confidence in themselves and their abilities (80% vs. 68%), identify and solve problems in their communities (57% vs. 28%), seek challenges and learn from setbacks (62% vs. 42%), and take an active role in decision making (80% vs. 51%).
“It’s an honor to have one of our Girl Scouts recognized as a National Young Woman of Distinction,’ said Mary Vitek, CEO of GSSJC. “Through Girl Scouting, girls like Angela discover their strengths and passions and use the leadership skills they learn to make a difference in our society. They become the next generation of women leaders and pave the way for other girls to follow.”
To honor Girl Scouts’ National Young Women of Distinction, the Kappa Delta Foundation grants the selected girls a combined $50,000 in college scholarships, reflecting Kappa Delta’s commitment to girls’ leadership and pursuit of education. This includes $5,000 for Shipman.
An additional $100,000 in college scholarships, which includes $10,000 for Shipman, is provided by Susan Bulkeley Butler, founder of the Susan Bulkeley Butler Institute for the Development of Women Leaders.
GSUSA will honor the National Young Women of Distinction at G.I.R.L. 2017, the largest girl-led event in the world, October 6–8 in Columbus, Ohio. In line with the theme of the event, “Experience the Power of a G.I.R.L.,” G.I.R.L. 2017 will provide every participating girl and girl supporter with amazing opportunities to celebrate achievements, build on aspirations, get inspired, and gain the tools girls need to empower themselves and create change in their communities―both locally and globally.
Being named a National Young Woman of Distinction, earning the Girl Scout Gold Award, and receiving generous scholarships are just a few of the countless experiences girls have through Girl Scouts. To join or learn about volunteering, please visit www.girlscouts.org/join.