Written by Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital Linguistic Outreach Specialist Zoé Rodriguez
On a Friday afternoon in August 1993, my mother, Guga, stood at my side during my first Girl Scout meeting as a member of the Caribe Girl Scout Council Colegio Maristas Brownie Troop 476 in Manatí, Puerto Rico. I began attending Girl Scout events every other weekend so eventually my entire family became integrated in the movement. The following year my mom became the Daisy troop leader and soon after my sister Andrea joined Girl Scouts as a Daisy. Our “Where girls grow strong!” sticker found a permanent place on my mom’s minivan, which was getting more use than ever.
The years passed and I kept growing through the movement. I earned my Silver Award as a Cadette and I also had the opportunity to represent the Caribe Girl Scout Council internationally on two occasions: First, in 2001 in the Alpine Adventure at Our Chalet, Switzerland, and in 2004 in the London Experience at Pax Lodge, England. Visiting those two Girl Scout World Centres, I faced diversity for the first time and had the opportunity to increase my knowledge of other cultures. I finally graduated as a Girl Scout Senior in 2005.
When I went off to college, I felt prepared because of what I’d learned in Girl Scouts. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus and a Juris Doctor in Law degree from Inter American University of Puerto Rico Law School, both in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
As a lawyer in Puerto Rico, I initially had several job opportunities, but as the island’s economic crisis deepened, I made the decision to move to Washington, DC. to pursue my dream of working at a non-profit. After a long process of interviews, I was offered the Membership Specialist position for Association 55 in Fairfax County at the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital. Today I am proud to use my native language to advance the Girl Scout mission as a Linguistic Outreach Specialist at the Council.
In my position I recruit, appoint, orient, and supervise girls and volunteers with a special emphasis on increasing diversity. Through my work, I’ve seen the great need to support Latinos in the United States, which is why I know it’s so important to promote and provide access to our programs to more Hispanic and Latina girls. One of the best moments for me has been working as a part of the team to plan the 10th anniversary of the Encuentro de Chicas Latinas leadership conference. I also helped raise the visibility of Encuentro by working with local Spanish media. Thanks to this conference, more than 1,200 Latinas have received additional support and skills to pursue a college career. It was not until this time that I could see how our actions can impact the lives of others with a simple act.
Today, I am in a stage of growth and professional enrichment thanks to the opportunities that Girl Scouts has given me. I look forward to continuing to impact the lives of other Latinas through my work and the incredible Girl Scout program. I know the key to my own success has come from being a woman of courage, confidence and character who every day tries to make the world a better place. I’m proud to say that I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, by a Latino family with a strong cultural heritage, traditions and values. Thanks to Girl Scouts and my family, I am who I am today.
As we celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, I want to remind girls: ¡que sí se puede y el cielo es el límite! (Yes you can, and the sky’s the limit).