St. Louis, MO – July 18, 2018 – Rebecca Rajagopal, a graduate of the American Embassy School in New Delhi, India, recently earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouting. Rajagopal continued her Girl Scouting experience abroad, remaining a member of her troop after her family relocated from St. Charles, MO to India in 2013. By earning the award, Rajagopal exemplifies a leader who has transformed an idea for change into an actionable plan with a measurable and sustainable impact. Rajagopal was recognized with other Gold Award Girl Scouts during a ceremony at Lindenwood University in St. Charles this summer.
Rajagopal first visited the children’s palliative care center during her community service trips. Many of the children were missing the comforting presence of a family member, but the games and activities Rajagopal played with them during her service trips brought smiles to their faces. Rajagopal’s interactions with the young patients also helped destigmatize cancer. In India, cancer is often seen as a social and financial burden to the children’s families. Wanting to find a long-lasting way to continue supporting the children during their treatment, Rajagopal earned her Gold Award by assembling care packages called Bags of Joy.
Upon returning to the United States, Rajagopal led her troop in filling 30 drawstring emoji bags with essentials: cotton beanie hats and grip socks to keep the children warm, lip balm to treat their dry lips – a side effect of the cancer treatment – toothbrushes and toothpaste to prevent infection and candy to satisfy their sweet tooth. Although Rajagopal is no longer living in India, the care center is going to continue assembling the Bags of Joy, updating the contents to include face masks to reduce the children’s exposure pollution. Rajagopal said organizing her troop’s responsibilities and planning the contents of the bags unleashed her inner G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ and helped her develop lifelong leadership skills.
“Before my Gold Award project, I would see problems that were unjust, but I didn’t know how to go about helping,” Rajagopal said. “I have a better handle on how to go about doing service in my community. Something as simple as care packages for children can make a huge difference.”
The Girl Scout Gold Award represents the culmination of more than 80 hours of work on a project. Approximately one million Girl Scouts in ninth through 12th grade have earned the Girl Scout Gold Award or its equivalent since 1916.
A young woman who has earned the Gold Award is a community leader. Gold Award Girl Scouts report a more positive sense of self, are more engaged civically and in community service, have more confidence in their leadership abilities, and experience greater life satisfaction and success than non-Gold Award peers. Some of the benefits of becoming a Gold Award Girl Scout are:
- Immediately rising one rank when enlisting in the US Armed Forces
- Earning scholarships from colleges and universities
- Recognition from many government and non-profit organizations
Earning the Gold Award is just one of the amazing things girls can do as part of Girl Scouts. To join Girl Scouts or learn more about volunteering, please visit girlscoutsem.org/join.