Whether it’s hiking 20 miles of canyon at Starved Rock State Park in Illinois, presenting an award at our council’s annual Tribute to Achievement dinner honoring civic and corporate leaders, or teaching 25 women executives to makes S’mores around the campfire at Camp Butternut Springs in Indiana as part of Camp CEO, Girl Scouts has been featured everywhere in my life.

Girl Scouting is a timeless wonder uniting different generations of women and developing strong relationships of empowerment. From the moment you become a Girl Scout, you’re connected to a variety of women leaders.

SWAPS
Lauren showing off her SWAPS

Reflecting on my own experiences, I realize Girl Scouts has grown with me as much as I have grown with the organization. The advancement of technology and current push for more females in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields have not only enhanced quality of life in America, but also guided my individual journey. For 12 years now, Girl Scouts and I have flourished together.

Throughout grade school, my troop’s annual traditions of badge-earning, cookie-selling, camp sing-alongs, and service to our community laid foundations for lifelong learning, interpersonal leadership, and a healthy sense of self-esteem. Girl Scouts transformed me into a young woman of “courage, confidence, and character.”

It’s that can-do attitude that inspired me to start a fishing club in conjunction with the national nonprofit Trout Unlimited during my senior year at Riverside-Brookfield High School. And I was able to lead an overnight fishing trip in July 2015 to Alto, Michigan.

GirlsFishing
Lauren (right) with members of her high school fishing club

In addition to serving as a former camp program aide, Camp CEO alumna, and Camp CEO counselor, I have had the privilege of being an honorary award-presenter and emcee for corporate fundraising events in downtown Chicago. By guiding younger girls at Camps Green Wood, River Trails, and Butternut Springs, I learned the importance of taking the initiative, collaborating ideas, and leading by example. By delivering speeches before a ballroom of CEOs – including Anna Maria Chávez, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA – I discovered value in effective communication, networking, and poised professionalism.

Both youthful and wise, the women leaders I’ve encountered reflect how dynamic and diverse Girl Scouts is. It evolves with the girls it prepares. Generation after generation, young ladies now grow to be proactive chief executive officers, problem-solving chief engineers, determined entrepreneurs, and all-importantly: beautiful women who become stronger each and every day.

Today, I am an honors engineering freshman and Stamps Leadership Scholar at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana surrounded by a world of thinkers, scholars, athletes, and activists. In my first-year endeavors, I have incorporated the Girl Scout ideals of citizenship, empathy, and global mindfulness.

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Lauren (left) with former U.S. Chief of Protocol Capricia Marshall

Through the Cultural Companions program, which pairs international students with domestic students, I have found sisters from various ethnic backgrounds. In the Old Masters program, which introduces undergraduates to alumni, I have received words of wisdom from President Barack Obama’s former Chief of Protocol Capricia Marshall. At Purdue’s 20th Annual Space Day, I had the honor of presenting a handcrafted plaque to Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon.

Dr. Aldrin
Lauren with former astronaut Buzz Aldrin

Next year, I will travel abroad on an eight-day medical trip to Quito, Ecuador during my spring break. One of 20 Purdue students selected by Timmy Global Health, a nonprofit sustained by medical professionals and student volunteers to expand healthcare access worldwide, our clinics will provide checkups, medications, hospital referrals, and over 15,000 vitamins to 600 children, adults, and senior citizens.

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Lauren (center) with fellow Purdue students

As a future biomedical engineer with the desire to make a global impact, I look forward to this opportunity to touch lives abroad. To this day, Girl Scouts maintains great presence in my life. Had I not been motivated to pursue a STEM career by Android app development workshops with my Camp CEO mentor at Motorola Mobility and hikes through the woods with physician executives and CEOs of engineering firms, my life’s path would have surely taken a different course. For this, I am grateful.

If I have learned anything after twelve years of being a Girl Scout, it is this: “We are the innovation generation, the game changers, the ground breakers. Each an integral part of herstory.” And, of course, I can’t forget this quote from a classic camp song: “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold.”

Lauren Primer is a Girl Scout alumna and freshman engineering student at Purdue University. She’s also a Stamps Leadership Scholar, Trustees Scholar and Honors Engineering Learning Community Board Chair among other accomplishments.

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