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National Young Women of Distinction

Every year, ten exceptionally inspiring Girl Scout Gold Award recipients are chosen by GSUSA as National Young Women of Distinction (NYWOD).

The NYWOD program perfectly reflects our mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. The program provides these young stars with the opportunity to be an inspiration to girls around the world and throughout the Girl Scout Movement.

Meet the Girl Scouts NorCal NYWOD

Rajvi, 2017

For her Gold Award, Rajvi, 18, from Girl Scouts of Northern California, developed soil moisture sensors and readers to help farmers conserve water and use less groundwater. The sensors are planted into the soil; they allow farmers to read and determine the moisture level in the soil. Based on Rajvi's technology, farmers on average saved 25 percent of their monthly water use and were able to better sustain their businesses during the California drought.

She has since received a provisional patent on her product and is now working to make it accessible for all. Her project is available on Facebook and YouTube as a video log to show people how the technology works and how they can replicate it globally in areas affected by drought. She has also made it cost effective so that farmers in rural or underserved communities can benefit from it. Ravji even got the opportunity to share her project at Oracle Openworld, one of the leading technology conferences in the world. She’s unstoppable!

Caitlyn McElligott, 2016

Caitlyn's project was geared toward educating over a million people about trisomy X, a genetic disorder that affects approximately 1 in 1,000 girls and causes developmental delays.

Born with this disorder herself, Caitlyn aimed to increase awareness and arm parents with positive, medically vetted information about the needs of a child born with trisomy X.

She worked with geneticists to create a website and launched a media campaign that reached nearly 2 million people. She also worked with Kaiser Permanente to update and improve their materials on trisomy X for doctors and patients.

Annie Cai, 2015

Annie created Imaginarium, a career development conference that teaches students about public speaking and entrepreneurship, in addition to building their confidence. In an effort to bridge the gap between what the career world expects from students and the education system that is preparing students for that world, she wanted to develop a resource that would strengthen students' entrepreneurial skills around business management, finance, and communications. At the conference and with guidance from industry professionals, students transformed their creative ideas into business plans for an array of products, from apps that promoted driving safety to entire bathrooms that reused water. Imaginarium participants made their dreams into reality and the program is cultivating our future business leaders.

Varsha Sathappan, 2014

Varsha initiated construction of a women's ward at the Vallal Mena Hospital, a small out-patient facility in Kodikkottai, India, and helped to expand it into an in-patient medical facility, which resulted in an increase in treatments and services for patients in the community and neighboring villages. Her project raised awareness about the villagers' needs and inspired the local bank to donate an ambulance so that people had access to Vallal Mena hospital as well as to the larger hospital that was 40 kilometers away.

Sricharana, 2013

Learning about the lack of clean and accessible water in Africa, Sricharana (Sri) created an African culture awareness show, called “Taste of Africa” to educate her community on African culture.  Over 500 people attended Sri’s event and its proceeds were used so she could travel to Tanzania to construct a water retention system and a goat pen for a cooperative of ten women and their families.  Villagers no longer need to travel miles for accesses to clean water. 

Interested in applying to become a National Young Woman of Distinction? Learn more at!