Gold Award Spotlight: From Girl Scouts to Harvard

Contributing post by Amanda Dynak

My name is Amanda, and I am an Ambassador Girl Scout from Chicago, IL. I have been a part of Girl Scouts for twelve years, and have always loved reaching out to my community with my troop. In the past, I have earned both the Bronze and Silver awards, and I was excited to continue that tradition of service through my own Gold Award Project. 

Going for Gold

My project was titled “Changing the Future of Diabetes.” I wanted to connect my love of science with my passion for supporting my community. Specifically, my project targeted the American diabetes epidemic through the power of information.

I believe a large cause of the rise of Type 2 diabetes, which is contributing to a global shortage of insulin, is a lack of information that people need in order to take the right preventative measures, as well as a need for greater medical research. We also face a continuing presence of Type 1 diabetes, which itself is misunderstood and in need of continued research. I aimed to get this information into the hands of the populations in my community that need it. 

Through my project, I tried to unite and inform my community in two ways: first, by providing new ways to become educated about diabetes, and second, by creating opportunities to contribute to research and prevention. I accomplished these goals by working towards them from several different angles. I began by informing myself through conducting in-depth research about Type 1 diabetes at one of the top research universities in the country. I used that information to develop a website, a testimonial blog, a brochure, and a children’s book each explaining diabetes in unique ways. 

Making an Impact

I wanted to empower people by giving them different ways of understanding how diabetes functions, how it can be prevented and treated, and how to support those already living with it. I wanted to target age groups in my community that aren’t always targeted when it comes to medical information. For example, I specifically wanted to find new ways for young children to understand the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and how to engage with their friends who are living with either condition. For teens and young adults, I created an online blog that allowed young and adult women across the country to share their stories of living with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

I think both of these age groups benefited immensely. The women I asked to share their stories on the blog were grateful for the opportunity to highlight their unique experiences, and my own friends who read the blog found it eye-opening; many of them realized they didn’t know as much about diabetes as they thought they did.

The book I shared through friends, family, and my local library, titled “Hankreas the Pancreas,” was read by many young kids who later told me they had heard of someone in their family having diabetes, but hadn’t really understood what it meant until now. Both of these groups became more compassionate towards those living with diabetes and more empowered to ask questions and to take ownership of their health.

I learned so many important lessons from this experience that I will carry with me to college, including how to set achievable goals, manage my time and money responsibly, and how to turn my passion for science into something that can support my community.

The most valuable thing I learned was how critical it is to provide others with a platform to share their stories. By creating a blog and connecting with the women who vocalized their experiences, I learned so much about how the topics I researched actually manifest in their daily lives. It also allowed them to fight back about the stigma and misinformation that exists around diabetes. I learned that by combining social awareness and compassion with science, we can take even bigger steps toward addressing public health problems.

The Future is Gold

When it came time for me to apply to college, I needed to really think about what I wanted to get out of my education. I reflected on the things that matter most to me: science, service, and community. Each of those components was an important part of my Gold Award project, and I soon realized they were also integral to what I was looking for out of my college experience. Identifying these important components through my project helped me better understand myself and the kind of impact I want to have on the world around me. It also helped me learn to better articulate my goals and how I want to achieve them.

Working on my Gold Award project was such an important experience for me that I wrote about it in my college essays. It was often the first thing that interviewers asked me about – and I loved talking about it! In December, I received the exciting news that I was accepted to Harvard University, and I can’t wait to begin studying biomedical engineering and finding ways to make it accessible to the populations that need it most.

I’m so grateful for my family, friends, and my troop for supporting me as I pursued a project that I am truly passionate about. Earning the Girl Scout Gold Award was a huge honor, but more importantly, it allowed me to reconnect with my community in a meaningful and lasting way. I definitely encourage all Girl Scouts to use the Gold Award as an opportunity to use your passions to do what we are always told as Girl Scouts to do when we go camping: to leave the world around us a little better than we found it.

Learn About the Gold Award

The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn. Once achieved, it shows colleges, employers, and your community that you’re out there changing the world.

Join a century of women who have done big things. Learn more about Gold Award scholarships, the history of the Gold Award, and the benefits of going Gold. 

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