By Sylvia Arroyo
Gold Award Girl Scout Abigail is one of the 172 girls in Northeast Texas who earned the Girl Scout Gold Award for the 2019-2020 year, and her project couldn't be more relevant. The Coppell High School junior chose to work on sparking meaningful dialogue on challenging topics of diversity and inclusion through a series of workshops she called Everybody Has a Story.
The prestigious Girl Scout Gold Award recognizes girls in grades 9 through 12 who demonstrate extraordinary leadership in developing sustainable solutions to local, national, and global challenges. Girls take action on a topic or a cause they're passionate about in a way that produces meaningful and lasting change. At the same time, they develop organizational, leadership and networking skills, spending more than 80 hours to complete their Gold Award project.
Through her workshops, Abigail started conversations meant to bridge divisiveness in the world. Her topics ranged from discrimination due to skin color in the classroom, economic disparity and struggles, homophobia, sexism, antisemitism, and Islamophobia. She noted that most conversations would spark during the debrief of "the privilege walk." She also allowed participants to expand their thoughts during small group discussions.
"Now more than ever, different perspectives need to be shared, and people need to listen and grow," she said. "This generation of teenagers is already creating so much positive change, and knowledge can lead to even more understanding."
Abigail doesn't know how many people she actually reached through her workshops. She said more than 75 people attended, and many of them used the packets she created to host their own workshops. Conversations were able to fully develop and came to conclusions after each member was able to share their views.
"It was an extremely safe space that was created where everyone could be themselves without fear of judgment. Participants gained and shared knowledge from different perspectives, and the meaningful topics and dialogue stuck with all of them, including me. I personally gained insights into other cultures and religions and gained new perspectives on my own life and privilege," she explained.
BRIGHT FUTURE AHEAD
The idea for Abigail's project stemmed from a speech she heard in 2016 by AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson on diversity and inclusion. Her mom then created an initiative at her work called DINE! to urge adults to talk in the workplace on difficult and more in-depth conversations.
"When faced with my Gold Award project, I knew I wanted to create something similar for teenagers," she said. "As a blue-haired Jewish lesbian interested in STEM, I have always been extremely passionate about diversity and inclusion. I knew this project could make a big difference. I loved hosting Everybody Has A Story and hearing participants' feedback about the event and feedback from when they hosted their own."
After graduating in 2021, Abigail plans to study Material Science and Engineering, a field she discovered at a Girl Scouts STEM event when she was in third grade. "I was instantly hooked and knew I wanted to be a Material Scientist when I grew up," she said.
A materials scientist is someone who studies and analyzes the chemical properties and structure of different man-made and natural materials, such as glass, rubber, and ceramic, to understand how the history of the material (its processing) influences its structure and, therefore, the material's properties and performance. When described this way, Abigail's passion for her Gold Award project theme and her love for this STEM-related field are linked.
Not only will she spark meaningful conversations as a material scientist, but she will be able to tell her story and contribute to a more understanding society.
Click here to view Abigail’s video about her Everybody Has a Story workshops, footage of some of the workshops and information on how to hold your own workshop.
Click here for a complete list of our Gold Award Girl Scout honorees and their accomplishments.