Girl Scouts in high school who choose to pursue the Gold Award are the elite members of scouting. The Gold Award represents the most prestigious and highest achievement in Girl Scouts and is the most challenging award to earn. Girls commit to designing a seven-step project that focuses on solving a community problem. These talented girls from our area are the best-of-the-best, having fulfilled all requirements to earn the Girl Scout Gold Award!
If you need encouragement and assurance that our country’s future is in good hands, you only need to read these inspirational stories about these exceptional young women who have committed their time to learn leadership skills, pursue excellence in all they do, and serve our communities.
Camryn Kiener – Troop 716
Camryn, a 2020 graduate of Starr’s Mill High School, had a hard time picking a favorite experience from her years in scouting—from rock wall climbing to covered wagon camping, tree climbing to scuba diving class, volunteering at an animal rescue, serving on an apple orchard team, and visiting the home of the founder of Girl Scouts, Juliette Gordon Low, in Savannah. “At the end of the day,” recalls Camryn, “Girl Scouts has given me opportunity after opportunity to serve my community in new and challenging ways. Community service has been the driver to new knowledge, new issues, and new people to serve. I am thankful for the many years I have been part of Troop 716.” Her exceptional achievements in scouting have led her to being selected as a Council Young Woman of Distinction.
As a member of the marching band and orchestra at Starr’s Mill High School, Camryn played French horn and mellophone. She plans to combine her love of music with a career in medicine by studying pre-med and music interdisciplinary studies at the University of Georgia, where she can pursue her passion for marching in the Redcoat Band while studying science.
Camryn’s Gold Award Project addressed the lack of fresh produce available to families receiving assistance at food pantries serviced by Midwest Food Bank. These families often can’t afford to purchase fresh produce, and many food pantries lack adequate climate-controlled storage for fresh produce. Teaching people how to build hydroponic garden boxes and grow their own produce in a small space was Camryn’s solution to this problem. Her goal was to build 25 hydroponic garden boxes and instruct staff and volunteers at food pantries how to grow their own fresh produce for clients and then teach the families they serve how to build their own boxes. In addition, Camryn also hosted a blue jean drive at three different Fayette County schools for families at the Real Life Center, providing at least 50 pairs of jeans for their clothing closet.
“The Gold Award Project was by far my most challenging task,” remembers Camryn. “It challenged my ability to organize an enormous task into smaller, more manageable tasks, to prioritize what needed to be done, to step way out of my comfort zone by approaching people for sponsorships, and to lead adults in positions of authority through garden workshops.”
Naomi Valeich – Troop 342
Naomi just completed her freshman year at Colorado State University. When she finishes her undergraduate degree, she hopes to attend law school and pursue a career in international law. In her free time, Naomi enjoys reading a good book, art (painting, drawing and sculpting), as well as playing soccer and rugby.
Selling Girl Scout cookies at cookie booths with her fellow scouts is one of Naomi’s favorite memories. As the girls in the troop got older, it was harder to get together. Meeting each year to sell cookies always brought her fellow scouts back, reminding them of the silly and exciting moments of their earlier scouting days.
“Girl Scouts has taught me the importance of giving back to the community, cultivating relationships, and staying humble,” reflects Naomi. “Through my years of scouting, I’ve learned that no matter how far you come in life or how successful you are, you must never forget those who helped you get there.”
Naomi’s Gold Award Project addressed the lack of intercultural understanding and the fear of the unknown associated with globalization, with a focus on Japanese culture. Her target audience was children (ages 4–6) in Peachtree City and their parents/guardians. Through an online presence and story time events at the local library, Naomi educated children about Japanese language and culture and taught them a few Japanese words as well. She explained the benefits and the fun of learning a foreign language and how it will prepare them for entering a more international world. Naomi emphasized the importance of being knowledgeable and considerate of different cultures.
Claire Oliver – Troop 12307
A 2020 graduate of McIntosh High School, Claire began her scouting adventures in the first grade. Her favorite experience in scouting was canoeing with one of her troop friends. Every time they canoed together, they would end up in the water!
Claire is inspired by a quote from Melinda Gates: “A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman.” According to Claire, “this quote describes the experience I had with Girl Scouts. Throughout my time in Girl Scouts, I was able to see so many strong women that have impacted their communities. There are so many women out there defying the social norms. Being a Girl Scout taught me that anyone can be strong and help society by just putting themselves out there.”
Claire likes to paint and also loves to watch movies and analyze them with her friends. This interest in film has directed Claire’s college path. She looks forward to attending the College of Charleston and studying marketing and film. She hopes to turn her degree into a future career in the film industry. She is fascinated and captivated by the whole world, and looks forward to the part she will play one day!
Claire’s Gold Award Project perfectly fit her community of Peachtree City and McIntosh High School. She developed a hands-on project to educate students and the community how to properly operate a golf cart, understand the rules of the road and how to protect themselves and others.
Claire and her team crafted a message that targeted three different audiences. The first target audience was high school teens at McIntosh High School. She created a PowerPoint presentation that was viewed by over 1,000 high school students and staff the first week of school during morning announcements. Her second targeted audience was individuals that ride in the golf cart as passengers. Claire and her team distributed over 500 stickers to golf cart passengers about keeping their feet in the cart. The third audience was adults and families. Claire and her team created and distributed pamphlets to people who attended a farmer’s market in Folly Beach, South Carolina, a beach community that uses golf carts as a means of transportation. Over 50 pamphlets were given out at the farmer’s market.
Jaylen Smith – Troop 10101
A Girl Scout since kindergarten, Jaylen has many fond memories of scouting over the years. She recalls a favorite experience in the fifth grade when her troop took a trip to Savannah, the birthplace of Girl Scouts. They ate saltwater taffy and caramel crickets, took a ghost tour, visited the beach and the Riverwalk and toured Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Low’s home. According to Jaylen, “Most of my fondest memories are related to how Girl Scouts creatively taught me leadership skills and how no one is too small or too young to make a lasting impact. I started out building enough courage to sell cookies in my Daisy apron, to creating and managing a community project that continues to help others to this day.”
Jaylen graduated from McIntosh High School and will attend Mercer University as a Presidential and Tift Scholar, double majoring in psychology and Spanish. Following graduation from Mercer, she plans to attend medical school to learn how to care for children affected by living in Midwestern migrant camps. Her goal is to help those suffering from the trauma of being separated from their parents at the border.
One of Jaylen’s favorite hobbies is bullet journaling (a combination of a traditional journal and a planner). She enjoys the creative outlet of designing each journal page to increase her productivity and keep her organized. Photography is another passion, especially taking photos of her friends and nature.
Focusing on the issue of loneliness and isolation among senior adults in her Gold Award Project, Jaylen addressed how social interactions can dwindle for the elderly with busy or remote families. Since lack of technology or knowledge of technology is a key component of this isolation, Jaylen created a curriculum and taught technology classes to active seniors at Christian City. She led a team of high school students who each paired with a senior adult to demonstrate how to use technology to stay connected with family and friends. The course included information on internet safety and other basic computer skills. The highlight of the course for the senior adults was learning to use Skype. Jaylen recalls seeing the joy on their faces and the faces of their families as they visited virtually on the screen. The class gave these seniors the opportunity to make new friends and expand their social circles.
Laura Anderson – Troop 342
Laura is a graduate of Starr’s Mill High School who joined the Girl Scouts in kindergarten. Her fondest memory is the close bond she developed with the girls in her troop. Her best friends are still those she met in scouting, because they share similar interests and have spent so much time together. Other favorite memories include pre-meeting snack times, backyard campouts, and all the time they fooled around at their cookie booths, wearing empty cookie boxes and dancing around to try to sell Girl Scout cookies!
Now ready to start her sophomore year at the University of Georgia, Laura is majoring in international affairs and minoring in German, Japanese language and literature, and aerospace studies. Recalling her time in scouting, Laura reflects, “Girl Scouts taught me that I am more than just an individual, that I am a part of a much greater community which is actively working to make the world a better place. From a young age, Girl Scouts taught me how to be resourceful and think critically—something which gave me a more mature understanding of the world around me than my peers. Furthermore, the countless leadership skills which were developed during my years as a Girl Scout have helped tremendously as I grow older and step up to larger leadership roles in other organizations.”
Laura aspires to be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force, upon completion of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of Georgia. Another goal is to become a polyglot (speak several languages), since having the ability to communicate with others in their native languages can bring a whole new level of friendship and understanding.
Laura’s Gold Award Project focused on the prevalence of harmful stereotyping of people of other cultures around the world. To help educate young children about different cultures, Laura hosted an event at the local library that featured a lesson on German culture, a German language lesson, and a bilingual story time. Laura chose to work with young children because she finds them enthusiastic and more open to learning and embracing new experiences. She hopes the youngsters will go on to communicate more effectively with people from all over the world and be able to view issues from various perspectives. In addition to the event, Laura uploaded instructional videos on the German language to YouTube for access by anyone interested.
Paige Grisamore – Juliette Troop
Paige is entering her senior year at Starr’s Mill High School and views the past ten years in scouting as filled with fun activities and events. One of her favorite memories is the Daddy-Daughter Camp Out. She and her dad camped out in their backyard, along with all her fellow scouts and their dads! They slept in hot pink tents, built a campfire and sang songs.
For Paige, the essence of scouting is: “Helping others helps you find your true passion.” Next year she hopes to attend the University of Georgia and major in early childhood education. “Helping others, especially children, has been something that has always had a pull on my heart,” says Paige. “I would love to become a teacher and accomplish a dream I have had since I was in first grade.
Paige has many interests and hobbies including playing soccer, getting involved with school clubs, working with children at her job and being involved with her church. One of her biggest passions is dancing. She loves tap, jazz, ballet and pointe.
Paige’s Gold Award Project, “New Year, New Me,” focused on helping less fortunate children involved with Bridging the Gap Outreach. The children come to the center for food and other necessities, but Paige wanted to make a lasting impression with something extra special. She created a fun, social group that focused on crafts and other activities to help the children feel confident in their looks and inner selves. The group met each week for four weeks. On the fifth week, Paige planned an event for the children to receive a free haircut and hygiene supplies.
Kayla Rose – Troop 10101
A 2020 graduate of McIntosh High School, Kayla is looking forward to running cross country and indoor track for Georgia Tech, while pursuing a degree in biology. Her favorite memories of scouting always involved her troop giving back to the community by volunteering their time and donating gifts to those in need. She understands how her actions can make a difference in someone’s life and enjoys giving gifts as opposed to receiving them.
“My experience in Girl Scouts has opened my eyes,” says Kayla. “Though I am one person, my voice can have an impact on many! Girl Scouts has empowered me to reach for my goals, and instilled in me the strength to do it. Through Girl Scouts, I was able to create long lasting relationships with girls in my community; we can look to each other for encouragement.”
As a student at McIntosh High School, Kayla tutored students through Beta Club, attended events as an Ambassador to welcome teens transferring from other areas, helped plan events or athletes to give back to the community through McIntosh Athletic Advisory Committee and helped middle school students better understand math and science by helping run STEM related labs with Science National Honor Society. She also served as a captain for track and cross country.
While at Georgia Tech, Kayla will continue to dream big. She plans not only to get a BA in biology, but to travel abroad, qualify for several internships in the medical field, and win a national running title as well!
Kayla’s Gold Award Project focused on self-esteem issues in younger children at four centers—Bloom Our Youth, Multi-Agency Alliance for Children, Georgia Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries, and Tijuana Christian Mission in Mexico. She and her team sent books, blankets and notes of encouragement to help boost the self esteem of foster care children and assure them they are capable of achieving great things, even though living through difficult times. Kayla measured the impact of her project by recording the number of views of her Instagram story explaining her project (over 200 views), recording the number of students at her high school who listened to her project information (over 1,600) and through the number of books and blankets her team was able to collect, which exceeded her goal. Her project will continue to be sustained through a club at high school.
Joy Chinyere Inya-Agha – Troop 716
A 2020 graduate of Starr’s Mill High School, Joy began her scouting adventure in the first grade. Her favorite scouting experience was learning how to scuba dive at the local dive center, wearing a massive diving suit and playing around with rings and water toys at the bottom of the pool! Her Girl Scout experience has greatly impacted her, along with her father’s illness. “My Girl Scout Gold Award Project and my father’s cancer have shaped me into the person I am today. At one time, my father’s cancer broke me, but now I use it to empower me and push me towards my goal of becoming a life-saving doctor.”
Joy plans to attend the University of Alabama at Birmingham and major in biology. She has been accepted into the UAB Honors College and has received early acceptance to the UAB Graduate School Master’s Program. After completing her undergraduate degree, Joy plans to attend medical school and become an oncologist or anesthesiologist. Her hobbies include Tae Kwon Do, marching band, calligraphy, playing video games, drawing, writing, listening to music, exploring and traveling.
Joy’s Gold Award Project focused on the importance of minorities joining the bone marrow and stem cell donor registry. The registry has over 33 million registered donors from many countries, but 75% of Blacks, 75% of multiracial persons, 55% of Latinos and Hispanics and 60% of Asian Americans will not be able to find a perfectly matched donor in the worldwide registry because their genetic heritage is greatly underrepresented in the registry. Joy’s goal was to educate people about the need. She was able to add 30 people to the bone marrow and stem cell registry. Joy was given a council Gold Award Scholarship for the quality of her project.
Sarah Kelly – Troop 342
Growing up in a military family that moved often, Sarah had the opportunity to belong to four different scout troops in four different states over her scouting career. Her favorite experience with scouting was with her current troop, who welcomed her with open arms when she attended her first meeting. The girls she met there became her best friends, and they shared many experiences together through middle school and high school, fulfilling the adage that Girl Scouts gives you the chance to make lifelong friends.
Ready to begin her sophomore year at the University of Georgia, Sarah is unsure of her major, but is minoring in Spanish and knows she wants to pursue a career course that allows her to continue to help others. Her hobbies include reading, writing and spending time with family and friends.
Sarah’s Gold Award Project assisted a non-profit organization, Healing 4 Heroes, in building a portable set of agility training equipment to help with the group’s mission to train rescued shelter dogs as service animals for wounded veterans. The trained dogs are given free of charge to wounded veterans so both can lead healthy and productive lives together.
With her team, Sarah designed and constructed five pieces of dog training equipment out of wood and PVC pipe, including a seesaw, dog walk, platform, weave poles and A-Frame. The project not only highlighted the needs of returning wounded veterans and the battle they face when they return home, but also educated people about the growing number of unwanted dogs in shelters euthanized each year. “My Gold Award project has helped me to gain confidence in my skills as a leader,” says Sarah. “It is a stepping stone to encourage me to seek out more leadership opportunities. With more experience, my personal skills will continue to grow, and I will achieve my goal of making a positive impact in the world.”