It was in the 1960s but I can still remember with pride my sash filled with the colorful badges I had earned while in the Girl Scouts. Although I had to work hard to earn them, I also remember gaining a sense of belonging and accomplishment. It was a place to go to find out more about my interests and skills as well as learning how to work as a team, which greatly enriched my life. It was a place to augment my learning and leadership journey.
The Girl Scouts has maintained its educational focus since I was a Girl Scout and now has expanded through partnerships to educate girls to enter STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and other relevant career fields. Girl Scouts is offering the real difference to parents who need their daughters to emerge from childhood and adolescence as leaders, ready to develop their minds, think for themselves, and exceed in our modern world.
My own path followed a trail blazed by the Girl Scouts. I cherish my memories of building my own business selling those special cookies, and the foundational leadership skills I learned as a Girl Scout. I know the Girl Scouts contributed to who I am today as the president of Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC). I know through experience that girl-led innovation can help shape the next generation of Girl Scouts to excel as leaders. I know that girls may need a safe, supportive, all-girl space where they can feel comfortable to take risks and try new things.
I am proud that MATC and Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast have been longstanding collaborative partners to give girls hands-on opportunities to explore non-traditional careers in STEM fields through specially-designed programs like Design and Discovery Day and CampHERO. We are committed to helping fuel the leadership pipeline for females to pursue careers as carpenters, welders, firefighters, police officers, and more, beginning as early as sixth grade.
As parents, we all know that every girl has a unique profile that deserves programs which meet her needs. Girl Scouts is a key and proven solution to providing girls with programs specially calibrated to shift attitudes about careers young women can, should, and deserve to enter.
It is my hope that our future female leaders will look back on their own era-defining cultural touchstones and use their Girl Scout experience as problem-solvers, confident leaders, and courageous thinkers to change our world for the better.
Being a Girl Scout has made a significant difference in my life as a leader, and it can for your girl too.
For more information about Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast, visit www.gswise.org
Dr. Vicki J. Martin is the president of Milwaukee Area Technical College.