Sitting in my Daisy troop circle, with my fingers anxiously twitching, I couldn’t wait for my turn to dip my egg in the bowl of colored water. Little did I know, that this would become the first memory I would hold of a fifteen-year Girl Scout journey.
Growing up, Girl Scouts provided me with a way to get together with my friends and participate in creative crafts and activities. The girls in my troop and I would hold sleepovers, learn dances like the Flamenco for World Thinking Day, and partake in service events like the annual Step Up for Kids Walk held in downtown Chicago. However, the older I got, the more I learned that while Girl Scouts was a program for me to make friends, it was much more a program for me to discover myself.
At the age of 14, I completed my Silver Award project — Kits for Kids — where my team and I created and hosted a fundraiser, whose earnings allowed us to assemble and supply entertainment kits for the bedridden children of a local hospital. This opportunity showed me firsthand that I could make a direct impact — that I could and should go out and seek out issues I cared about and work to address them.
The project developed my passion for community service and, the more I reflect on it, the more I realize the number of skills that simple project helped me developed. Earning my Silver Award taught me to communicate effectively, work within a team, conduct research and outreach, and most importantly to act upon my passion to serve.
I was fortunate enough to not only be able to conduct projects, but to also attend programs, such as the 2011 National Scouts Jamboree, and the STEM overnight camp, both of which continued to foster my growth. The Jamboree was one of the first ways I was able to find myself. Going to a camp in another state with hundreds of other scouts I didn’t know, taught me the importance of taking initiative and forced me out of my shell. I was able to experience new thrills like ziplining, but was also able to become really close to people I had just met.
The STEM overnight camp exposed me to the world of engineering and innovation, and encouraged me to mesh my quantitative and creative abilities to explore and innovate. Being a female, I wasn’t actively exposed to this field regarding innovation and technology. STEM camp made it not only acceptable, but rather commendable to be a girl and to like and excel at STEM subjects.
Near the end of my Girl Scout journey, I began reflecting on what it was ultimately that I gained from these experiences. Girl Scouts exposed me to new opportunities and engaged me in activities ranging in different fields, like STEM, with different people. Being a Girl Scout pushed me to work and communicate in teams; it challenged me with real world problems; it taught me life skills like first aid and self-defense; it encouraged me to chase my dreams and unleash my potential. Girl Scouts provided me with a safe environment to explore various fields and polish up my skill set, which has led me to serve in the versatile roles I do today. My Girl Scouts leaders and my Girl Scouts community provided me with the resources and support to empower me to become the confident and determined female I am.
However, the discovery did not stop with my experience or who I was, but rather expanded to my future abilities. Girl Scouts made me realize that I have the power and potential to foster change and to empower others.
Currently, I am a freshman at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois studying statistics and economics, with hopes of becoming an actuary in the near future. On campus, I am on a competitive Bollywood dance team, current social chair for our Women in Business organization, the Marketing and Resource Manager for an upcoming summer camp, and am spending time this quarter interning at a local start-up.
Female empowerment has now become a passion for me. It was through other females’ efforts, that I am able to uphold myself in a confident manner. Hence, the other role that I currently hold is the assistant leader for a Brownie troop of 24 girls. I took on this role because I was inspired to empower young girls. Talking to my Girl Scouts, regardless of how young they are, I can see that they are very talented with so much potential, and I have made it my mission to provide them with the resources, the time, and the motivation to help them grow, so that they can build that confidence and feel empowered enough to chase their dreams, broaden their horizons, and exceed their potential.
Just as the mural made by my scouts above says, “Girls Can Change the World,” I hope to be one of those girls — one who inspires other girls to do the same.
A lifelong Girl Scout, Areesha Majeed is a troop leader for a second-grade Brownie troop. She is a freshman at Northwestern University pursuing a double major in economics and statistics with a minor in French.