Monday, June 6, 2016

2016 Gold Award Celebration

When people think of Girl Scouts, many think of cookies and camping, which are both important components of the Girl Scout experience. But, for Girl Scouts, the most impactful experiences are those that make a difference in the community. This includes the projects that girls complete to earn the Gold Award, the highest honor a girl can earn in Girl Scouting. This year, 39 local Girl Scouts earned this top achievement, and they were recognized during a celebration held in their honor on June 5 at Virginia Wesleyan College. The celebration not only recognized the achievements of these girls, but also celebrated a centennial of Girl Scouts positively impacting their communities, as 2016 marks 100 years since the establishment of the highest award in Girl Scouts.
2016 Gold Award Recipients
Guests and awardees were welcomed to the celebration by Emcee Nancy Rogan, director of community engagement at WHRO, who earned the highest award in Girl Scouts, known as the First Class Award at the time. Jordan Thomas, a 2013 Gold Award recipient and a student at Virginia Wesleyan College, offered welcoming remarks from the college and Cheryle Mack, chair of the board of directors for Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, congratulated the awardees on their accomplishments. Rogan then introduced the keynote speaker, Alexia Rochester, Cadet Second Class at the United States Air Force Academy and a 2013 recipient of the Girl Scout Gold Award.

Keynote speaker Alexia Rochester with
Candice George, a member of the
Gold Award Committee
Rochester shared her personal Gold Award journey, which focused on raising awareness and providing resources about teen depression and suicide, an issue that she personally related to after losing someone close to her. Rochester talked about how overcoming challenges along the way helped shape her into the person she is today. One of her key takeaways from earning the Gold Award was the communication skills that she gained. Now, as an instructor pilot, she sees how important it is to be able to express herself clearly and confidently.

“After taking some time to reflect upon how much time and effort I put into this project, I realize just how well it captured the kind of person and leader that I am at heart,” Rochester said. “The beauty of the Gold Award is that it is just as wonderful and impactful as the woman working on it.”

Following the keynote address, each Gold Award recipient was recognized and her project was shared with guests in attendance. This year’s projects addressed a number of issues in the community, including food insecurity, teen dating violence and childhood obesity rates.

Three of the Gold Award recipients, Elizabeth, Merly and Darden were awarded lifetime Girl Scout memberships in recognition for the outstanding projects that they completed. The memberships were given through the Helen Kattwinkel Endowment Fund, which was started this year in honor of a volunteer who has spent more than three decades serving on the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast Gold Award Committee. Kattwinkel was in attendance at the celebration to present the lifetime membership certificates.

Since 1916, the best and brightest Girl Scouts have undertaken projects to improve their communities and the world. Girls who pursue the Gold Award aspire to transform an idea and vision for change into an actionable plan with measurable, sustainable and far-reaching results. The experience of earning the Gold Award gives girls great lifetime benefits. In fact, the Girl Scout Research Institute has found that Gold Award recipients soar when it comes to seeing themselves as a leader, providing service to others through volunteerism and positive attitudes about themselves and the lives they lead. These young women are courageous leaders and visionary change makers.

Earning the Girl Scout Gold Award is just one of the amazing things girls can do as Girl Scouts. For more information, visit