Guest Blogger – Girl Scout Ambassador Riya Saran: Being a Gold Award Girl Scout is an Honor


My grandparents immigrated to the US from India about 50 years ago, and my mom became the first Girl Scout in our family. She has continued her involvement with Girl Scouts as the Service Unit Cookie Manager, or the Cookie Grandma (as my dad calls her), and made sure that my sister and I would learn to serve others while being supported by people that believe we are the leaders of tomorrow. 

My younger sister and I began Girl Scouts a decade ago, and although we are not in the same troop we had the opportunity to collaborate in fundraising for our Gold Awards. Riya Saran - BrowniesFor the past three years, my troop has been able to host the Mother-Daughter Tea where we created themed activities that allowed about 50 girls to enjoy an afternoon with their moms and friends, as well as giving girls the option of holding their birthday parties at the event. Now as my troop is graduating, we are passing the tradition on to my sister’s troop to continue that legacy.

Throughout my Girl Scout experience, I have made new friends and kept up with older friends, I have learned from my troop leader what it takes to organize a group of girls for an event, and I have had a chance to intern in the Girl Scouts office in DC where I got an introduction to what the Development department does to cultivate and show appreciation to Girl Scout supporters. I have earned my Bronze, Silver, and most recently, my Gold Award. 

In the summer of 2018 I decided that art was not only a means of expression, but a necessary symbol for change, so I saved money from coaching diving, fundraising at dance recitals, and approaching American Airlines to waive $500 worth of luggage fees to work with the Mariposa Dominican Republic Foundation.

Over the course of one week, I was able to teach art lessons and paint a mural with 100 Butterfly Muralunderprivileged girls. On the mural, we wrote “Sin Cambio, no habrían mariposas. Sé el cambio que deseas ver en el Mundo,” which translates to “Without change, there would be no butterflies. Be the change you wish to see in the world.” 

I chose these words because Girl Scouts has taught me that even one girl can make a difference, and I wanted to make sure that the girls at the Mariposa Center were reminded that they too can have a sustainable impact on the world. 

This experience was the foundation of my Gold Award. Art allows girls to express themselves and their knowledge creatively, develop their communication skills, generate new ideas, and create goals for a better future. I am fortunate enough to have attended schools in which creativity has played an integral role in my learning, and I have also been able to pursue my interest in art outside of school, but art does not play an integralMariposa Center Group Pictures role in Dominican schools. By bringing art lessons to the Mariposa Center, I was able to expose the girls to an activity that they had minimal access to. Seeing the message on the mural every day will serve as a daily reminder not only to the girls who participated but to other girls that will come through the school that they are the driving force for change in the world.

Through my Gold Award, I have grown as a leader as I have learned how to identify issues within a community, lead a team, and raise money to combat those issues. Beginning with selling cookies every winter and continuing on to raise almost $2,000 for my Gold Award, I am now comfortable with approaching people of all ages to support a cause that I care about. 

I have mentored younger troops about how to begin their Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards and have gained mentors through Camp CEO where I spent the weekend camping with inspiring women including Faye Fields, Lidia Soto-Harmon, and many other local women executives.

Being a Gold Award Girl Scout is an honor and a responsibility to lead by example, but it’s not just the title that sets me apart, it’s the experiences that come with it, and in listening to college admissions officers, it is clear that these experiences have set me up for success. 

Girl Scouts has given me a chance to learn from and give back to others, as well as rally support for a cause.  So, I guess this is a chance to practice those skills – I’d like to thank you for your support here today. I know that none of this would be possible without the support of each one of you here tonight. Your belief in this organization helps girls like me have a chance to take the lead, follow our passions, and give back to our communities. Thank you so much for your investment in girl-leadership and your contributions to this amazing organization.