Amber was presented the 2010 Prudential Spirit of Community Award in Washington, D.C, on May 3. This recognition included an all-expense-paid trip with to Washington, D.C., a $1,000 award, a silver medallion, and personal congratulations from former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Olympic snowboarding champion Seth Wescott. They both praised Amber for her efforts to broaden access to math and engineering education to girls and minorities.
While in Washington, D.C., Amber also toured memorials on the National Mall and the Smithsonian with fellow honorees. “I was humbled by the company I was in. The other state and international award recipients were amazing. It felt really great to be among them and to be recognized for my hard work,” Amber said when asked about the experience. She plans to use the $1,000 award to fund Girl Scout camp and travel adventures to further her personal and leadership development.
Amber shares here, in her own words, her favorite aspect of the trip to Washington, DC.
“Each honoree was asked to bring a children’s book to donate and read to elementary aged students. The book I brought was called Thelonius Monster’s Sky-High Fly-Pie. Reading to my group of second graders from Montgomery Elementary School was my favorite part of the national recognition experience.
My group had three students, two boys and a girl. As I started reading my book to them, they quickly got into the story. Throughout the book they told me fun little facts/stories (related to the book) about their likes, dislikes, what they wanted to be when they grew up.
They asked me about my project, where I was from, and after reading to them several Dr. Seuss books, they told me that the book I had brought was their favorite. I really wish I could have read with my group longer. When the teachers said it was time to go back to class, my group asked if I could come with them. I would have loved to! They were very sweet and well-behaved. Again, it was my favorite part of the trip.”
We also asked Janae Barron, Amber’s mom, about how she felt celebrating her daughter’s achievements.
“It was overwhelming to see Amber recognized in such a special way. We joined Girl Scouts when Amber was in fourth grade and going through a hard time. She was very shy and within months of participating in Girl Scouts I saw a change in her. To see her years later in Washington, D.C., being recognized for her achievements and presenting herself with poise and confidence was incredible. I was so impressed with how Amber handled herself. There are not words to describe how I felt…I came away from the experience feeling grateful.”
Prior to recognition at the nation’s capital, Amber was named top middle age level youth volunteer in Utah. She was one of two teenagers who gave the highest number of volunteer hours for the State’s 2009 Summer of Service. For her efforts, she earned the Presidential Service Award and an intimate luncheon with Lt. Governor Greg Bell. After learning about Amber’s contributions to her community and her passion for making a difference, the Lt. Governor said, “This Girl Scout is formidable!”
Amber was again recognized for her achievements at Girl Scouts of Utah’s Recognition of Excellence event in April. She had the opportunity to address an audience of over 350 people and was awarded the Prudential Spirit of Community Certificate.
Amber’s ambition to earn her Girl Scout Silver Award is what partially led to her to taking action. Her service focused on starting a MESA (Math Engineering Science Achievement) chapter at her school. MESA promotes fun activities in math, engineering and science, with a special emphasis on female and minority engagement and encouragement to consider careers in these fields.
After months of lobbying, Amber persuaded her school and district administrators to allow the formation of the club. She also recruited a faculty advisor, formed a planning team and advertised the club with posters and announcements. When a grant she applied for was denied, Amber orchestrated a school wide recycling project to raise money for the club and solicited a matching grant from her father’s engineering firm.
In March of this year, the club hosted “Math Madness,” focusing on fun and challenging math puzzle activities. Other engineering-based projects included parachute construction and a flight contest. Nearly 40 students now participate in MESA at Amber’s school, the majority of which are girls. Amber continues to volunteer her time and is looking forward to starting a MESA club at her high school in the fall.
“The strengths and characteristics emerging in Amber are due to the network of friends and mentors she has gained through her Girl Scout experience,” says her mother, Janae Barron. “As a member of Girl Scouts of Utah’s Miss Media she’s learned about our multimedia world and had first-hand experience representing Girl Scouts in the media. Her courage, confidence and character are growing and expanding. Girl Scouts is shaping her life in such a special way. She’s gained the courage and learned how to speak up and advocate for herself and others who would not otherwise have a voice.”
Girl Scouts provides a unique experience where a girl finds courage by exploring and trying new things, confidence by discovering her strengths and character by shaping her values. For more information on how to join, volunteer or donate to Girl Scouts of Utah, visit www.gsutah.org.