On June 14, GSNorCal Gold Awardees Zahra Hajee and Uma Mahajan headed to Capitol Hill to celebrate 100 years of Gold Award achievement! They were joined by fellow Girl Scouts from across the country, members of the Obama administration and U.S. Military, GSUSA CEO Anna Maria Chavez, and many more. The girls met CA Representatives Barbara Lee and Mike Honda, and were able to discuss STEM programming with Representatives Jackie Speier and Zoe Lofgren. The girls even met with Senator Dianne Feinstein's staff to talk about the significance of the Gold Award, the Girl Scout Research Institute, and issues in the state of California that girls can work to improve.
Here's what Zahra and Uma had to say about the experience:
Zahra: "I have rarely witnessed so many sources of inspiration in one room. Representing the Girl Scouts as a Gold Award and Alcoa Chuck McLane Scholarship Recipient, I had the opportunity to attend the Gold Award Centennial Celebration in the nation's capital. Not only was I able to share my project and converse with members of Congress and other Girl Scout Councils, but I was also able to hear the stories of Girl Scouts from across the nation. The Gold Award program creates a forum for girls to combat relevant, pressing matters in the community, and during this event I was reminded of the amazing impact girls have made locally and globally by addressing issues they are passionate about. Recognizing the achievements of Girl Scouts nationwide today made me feel honored to be part of an organization that continues to inspire change across the globe."
For her Gold Award Project, Zahra founded Camp Evergreen, an environmental awareness camp educating elementary students on how to innovate for a sustainable future. Addressing topics such as recycling, energy, and water conservation, the project introduced to students ways of creating tangible change in their communities through interactive activities and an engaging outdoor curriculum. The summer camp eventually merged with the YMCA as an enrichment program, and is currently implemented at YMCA campuses across the state of California.
Uma: "Completing my Gold Award project is one of my proudest and most cherished experiences, so I am very honored and humbled to have been part of the Gold Award Centennial celebration. Exhibiting my project at the celebration and the conversations I had and stories I listened to were extremely inspiring. To interact with a room full of women and congresspeople and professionals who were just as passionate and excited about making the world a better place as me creates a very energetic environment, and motivates me to engage with others to exchange ideas and insight about making an impact. I am so grateful for this experience, to Girl Scouts and Alcoa, for making this opportunity possible and opening my horizons as I try to plan my future. To hear the remarks from Anna Maria Chávez, Kathy Hannan, Brigadier General Diana Holland, Mike Groff, as well as the many congresspeople, and to talk to other Gold Awardees about their project, opened my eyes to the incredible work currently being done both locally and globally, thanks to Girl Scouts.
My Gold Award project was focused on increasing the interest and love of science and robotics in younger students. As part of my project, I held an event at NASA Ames Research Center that engaged students by building their knowledge base around that year's competition theme, Nature's Fury—I recruited 15 companies and organizations in the fields of natural disasters and emergency readiness to hold booths and activities and the event had over 700 attendees. As another part of my project, I started and coached the first 2 elementary robotics teams in my school district, one of which is a Title 1 school (has many underserved students), that is sustainable and flourishing even after I graduated and moved to college.
Being a Girl Scout for 10+ years has shaped the person I am today by giving me the courage to identify community issues, the confidence to take the leadership to respond to them, and the character to want to leave an impact."
We're so proud to be represented by such inspiring Girl Scouts!