Girl Scout Gold Awards | Young Women Earn Rare Honor

The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest and most prestigious award in Girl Scouting

Gold Award Girl Scouts of America

It’s an achievement of a lifetime, something many young girls aspire to become when they first step into the Girl Scouts.

The Gold Award, the highest honor in the 100-plus year old organization, is achieved by fewer that 6 percent of Girl Scouts annually.

Those who have earned the lofty award become community leaders, with high ambitions for greatness and a desire to be highly successful.

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A large group of South Pasadena women recently completed their mission of pursuing Gold Award aspirations, executed “Take Action” projects in response to pressing community needs, all in an effort “to transform an idea and vision for change into an actionable plan with measurable, sustainable and far-reaching results,” as outlined by Girl Scouts officials.

The following is a first person account from each of the local Girl Scouts who have made a significant contribution and made a difference in the community. The South Pasadenan invites you to read each one and fully appreciate the long hours and dedication each of the scouts took to, well, reach for the stars, and become an outstanding citizen as a result.

Girl Scout Gold Award Winners:  

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PHOTO: Belle n’ Beau Photography | News | Kathleen ‘Cole’ Fox

Cole Fox

I’ve been in Girl Scouts for 13 years. Girl Scouts has given me a greater sense of community and it’s where I’ve found my life-long girlfriends. I’ve really connected to my troop members. My Gold Award project, LOVE Rocks! centered around spreading kindness – through art. I worked with students at Arroyo Vista (thanks to the kindness and generosity of my former principal Mrs. Busick) and we painted rocks with messages of kindness and empathy that we will spread all around town.  It was a simple and special way to spread kindness during a time in which all we hear or read about is hatred and intolerance.

PHOTO: Belle n’ Beau Photography | News | Mia Dawson

Mia Dawson

I have been a Girl Scout for the past 13 years. When constructing my Gold Award Project, I knew I wanted to make a change in younger kids lives and I wanted a relatable issue that I could resolve. As a dancer who has been dancing throughout my entire life, I would notice how all of the other arts and sports were represented in middle school. As I entered high school I was fortunate enough to take dance classes in and outside of school due to the strong and established dance program.  For my project I wanted to use my ability along with other dancers at South Pasadena High School to reach out and help teach free dance classes after school to middle school students. I specifically chose to connect South Pasadena High School with South Pasadena Middle School and also go outside of my community to teach free after school classes to Rosemont Middle School in La Crescenta.

PHOTO: Belle n’ Beau Photography | News | Eleanor Washburn

Ellie Washburn

I have been in Scouts for 13 years. I became interested in the subject matter for my Gold Award while I was enrolled in an Elementary Education course at Arroyo Vista. Fortunately, this opportunity at Arroyo Vista allowed me to collaborate with my former second-grade teacher, and gain exposure and have the ability to do hands-on work with the students in her class for two hours, three times a week. Because of this experience, I noticed that some of the children struggled with their fine motor skills, and I remembered this when starting to brainstorm ideas for my project. I also found out that the development of fine motor skills has been steadily decreasing with the advent of technology. When talking with my advisor, Ellen Main, she suggested also tying in sensory processing disorders since this affects five to sixteen percent of school-aged children as well. As a result, I wanted my project, Prosperity Through Dexterity, to focus on a tool that would introduce a sensory diet into the daily routines of students and encourage the use of fine motor skills through activity kits used in the classrooms. Finally, the kits that I’m assembling will be used in three different school districts at the elementary and middle school grade level in South Pasadena, Glendale, and Los Angeles area.”

Emily Newhall

I have been in Girl Scouts for 13 years. My Gold Award Project was a Breast Cancer Awareness Walkathon. I invited students, community members and families to attend. At the walkathon, people had the opportunity to walk around the track to honor people who have suffered from breast cancer, earn prizes, learn about breast cancer and how to prevent it, and have fun! I was inspired to focus my project on breast cancer because my mom is a double breast cancer survivor. I want to reach the community and promote awareness for reaching a cure, supporting those with breast cancer, and preventing men and women from getting it.

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PHOTO: Belle n’ Beau Photography | News | Madison Abundo

Madison Abundo

I have been in Girl Scouts for 13 years. The goal of my Gold Award was to create a more inclusive environment for children with Down syndrome, through sign language. Specifically, giving children and teens with down syndrome more learning tools to improve their communication skills, and the ability to be more independent. For my project, I partnered with Club 21, an organization in Pasadena that supports and tutors children with Down syndrome. I created 15 sign language videos with ten words each which corresponded to the children’s vocabulary words. Additionally, I uploaded the videos to the website I created to make this resource easily accessible for the children at Club 21.

PHOTO: Belle n’ Beau Photography | News | Elizabeth Bock

Elizabeth Bock

I’ve spent 13 years as a Girl Scout. My Gold Award project, “Fish Are Friends, They Make Food,” stood out to me when I saw a need for more awareness about SPHS’s aquaponics garden. I found that few high school students knew that we had a fish garden, much less knew how it functioned. I’m proud to see a refurbished facility as well as the foundation for a strong organization, Urban Sustainability Club, to maintain the garden and continue to spread information about alternative agricultural methods. I raised funds through a yard sale and by selling baked goods at a Garfield Park summer music event to afford the repairs to the aquaponics garden. Using impressionable ninth grade Girl Scout labor, nearly 20 volunteers and I re-stained the hydro corn and fish tanks’ wood, weeded, set a new brick path, trimmed bushes, and planted seasonal crops. Finally, I hand painted and hung educational signs around the garden explaining its functions to educate the student body about sustainable agriculture.

Elizabeth Eaton

I’ve been in Scouting for 13 years. I’ve always been interested in animals, so I chose to work with Santé d’Or animal shelter, which helps with finding placements for stray cats and kittens.  I raised funds from a yard sale to purchase heating pads for kittens at the shelter. I also organized an adoption fair outside Urban Pet to raise awareness about cat rescue and fostering kittens and to help find homes for animals from the shelter.

PHOTO: Belle n’ Beau Photography | News | Rebecca Hall

Becca Hall

A Girl Scout for 13 years, the issue I chose to address is unkindness. I wanted to encourage kids to be nicer to one another, and even to themselves. The latter is, in my opinion, often overlooked, so I included a whole flight of stairs of ‘we’ phrases that are intended to make the reader feel included and understood. I painted kind and inspiring messages on stairs and umbrellas around the Marengo Elementary campus, using bright colors to further the positive vibes. Once the project was complete, I had the opportunity to talk to the fifth-grade classes about what it meant to me and also hear what it meant to them, which was an amazing experience.

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Jade Mye

A Girl Scout for 13 years, I have always admired my grandparents and other seniors in my community because of the wisdom and knowledge that they have to offer. Despite this, their disconnect with the modern world can hold them back in our society. I chose to do my Gold Award project with the Pasadena Senior Center and focused on helping to connect the bridge between modern technology and our senior citizen community. I created a program that consisted of 16 classes that each focused on a different aspect of technology. At the end of the program, the course material and two iPads were donated to the center so that senior citizens can continue to learn more about technological advances. With this, I hope to have made a difference in how well senior citizens are integrated into our society.

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PHOTO: Belle n’ Beau Photography | News | Sarah Uriarte

Sarah Uriarte

I have been a Girl Scout for 13 years. Throughout high school, I witnessed friends and classmates suffer from sleep deprivation, malnutrition, stress and other maladies. It was common to joke about pulling all-nighters or skipping meals, but it didn’t seem like the consequences of these habits were fully understood. Having privately struggled with several of these issues myself, I felt that I could not let these habits continue without being addressed. So, I hosted an educational and active fitness workshop with YMCA representatives at the Youth Center at St. James. I moderated a mental health panel discussion among four healthcare professionals and the audience, which consisted of teen girls and their family members. I also organized a school-wide health fair that consisted of booths from various health organizations in order to educate students on what good health is and to promote healthy habits for them to live long, happy lives.

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Maylis Whetsel

I’ve been in Scouts for 13 years. I chose my Gold Award project because I wanted to share something that I was passionate about with a broader community. The project sought to expose middle school students to computer science and followed through with a self-paced curriculum”

I taught a camp at McKinley K-8 in Pasadena for a week about the fundamentals of programming in JavaScript. The camp had around 30 students and covered the basics of programming to give the students early exposure to computer science.

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PHOTO: Belle n’ Beau Photography | News | Teryn Kum

Teryn Kum

I’ve been in Girl Scouts for 13 years. For my Gold Award project, I renovated the garage of the Special Olympic athletes’ home into an exercise room so they could have access to a gym at home. My Team Wellness program taught exercise and nutrition information, emphasizing goal-setting and teamwork. Growing up I’ve been fortunate enough to experience the positive impact sports has had on my life. For my project I wanted the Special Olympic athletes to have the opportunity to stay fit and healthy at home.

Gold Award Winners in College

Impressively, many of the young ladies who earned the Gold Award are college freshmen, attending top universities in the nation. The following is where they are furthering their education:

Maylis Whetsel – Columbia University

Elizabeth Bock – Duke University

Madison Abundo – Northeastern University

Elizabeth Eaton – Loyola University Chicago

Rebecca Hall – UC Santa Cruz

Sarah Uriarte – Brown University

Jade Myer – University of Pittsburgh

Editor’s Note: Not all photos of the Gold Award Winners were available.