Friday, May 25, 2018

Honoring remarkable women and their accomplishments

On Friday, May 18, Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania honored oustanding community service and leadership at the annual Awards of Distinction luncheon at the Omni William Penn Hotel.

The prestigious event included special guest and CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA Sylvia Acevedo. She set the tone for the event by sharing her story of how she broke barriers and became one of the first Hispanic students, male or female, to earn their master's degree in engineering from Stanford University.

She spoke about growing up on a dirt road with parents who had not gone to college and were not wealthy ranchers. She shared how her experience in Girl Scouting made her see that cooking is no more than a chemistry experiment, and she learned that she was rather good at science and math.

"When it was time to go on to college," Acevedo said, "and the college counselor opened the door and looked at the lobby and looked around me, and she said 'What are you doing here?' and I said 'I'm going to college.'"

Acevedo continued, "She said 'Girls like you don't go to college.' And, unfortunately, statistically she was right. But, she wasn't right in my case."

Acevedo's personal history with growing courage, confidence, and character through Girl Scouting launched the event into impactful comments on female accomplishments, leadership, and wisdom.

The Girl Scout of Distinction, Alexis Mandell credited her experience in the Movement as inspiration to create the same opportunities for young girls in her community.

"Girl Scouts has provided me a supportive, all-girl environment to explore whatever my intention was in life," Mandell said. "Inspired by that all-girl environment, I created an all-girl science fair for my Gold Award project to encourage the younger girls excited by STEM."

Maurita Bryant, 2018 Woman of Distinction in government and law, spoke about her 39 years working on the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police.

When considering advice for the future leaders in attendance she said, "The love you have for one another will always overshadow the ugly in this world."

Megan "Megs" Yunn, 2018 Woman of Distinction in entrepreneur and small business, was unable to attend due to the arrival of her baby boy. She sent her words of wisdom with Katelyn Livingston, Director of Community Engagement for her company Beverly's Birthdays. Yunn encouraged the audience to follow their gut and follow the path that feels right, even if the people around you think it's crazy.

The event left the room feeling inspired to make a difference in their community and beyond. For photos from the event, visit the photo album on GSWPA's Facebook page. The clips from Acevedo's keynote speech are included here: Part 1Part 2 Part 3.