Meet our deserving winners, read their bios and leave a few words of encouragement.
= multi-year scholarships awarded!
South Carroll High School
2022 AAO Scholarship Winner
I was the head coach of a U12 girls rec soccer team this past spring. As the only coach, I was in charge of planning and running practices, coaching games, communication with parents, and planning/organizing other events (such as team pictures and an end-of-year party). I worked to better the girls' skill, knowledge of the game, and camaraderie within a team.
“I learned to love myself and be proud of who I am,” stated 11-year-old Emma on her Girl Power Club survey. Another girl, Madison, stated, “I learned it’s ok to be different and not be like everyone else.”
As a Girl Scout since Kindergarten, I always knew I’d earn my Gold Award in high school. When the time came, I wanted my project to make a difference in the lives of young girls in my community. I didn’t want them entering middle school with the same fears as I had. So I created Girl Power Club, a monthly empowerment program for 17 fifth grade girls to learn about self-love, leadership, and friendship building. I wanted to become the person for them that I had needed at their age.
I would soon learn that one girl in particular really needed the club. She was outgoing and spoke her mind on most occasions, but clearly struggled with her view of herself. We started each meeting with an activity where the girls would identify something they loved about themselves. This particular girl often struggled when it came her turn. My lessons reminded her that she shouldn’t question her abilities or compare herself to others.
That girl was me.
I was teaching the girls about building a strong self-esteem, but at times it felt like I barely had any of my own. I felt foolish to be teaching the girls topics that I hadn’t mastered myself. I would emphasize to them the power of staying positive and loving oneself unconditionally, and yet my inner voice repeated its loop that I was not smart enough, not pretty enough, or didn't have enough friends. And I was meant to lead Girl Power Club?
I came to realize that one of the best ways to internalize lessons learned is by sharing those lessons with others. I am actively learning how to maintain confidence and strength. I am actively learning how to love myself unconditionally. I am actively learning how to put myself out there in new situations. I realized that one does not need to be an expert to be a mentor. While the girls of Girl Power Club will surely learn their own lessons as they navigate middle and high school, the specific hindsight I gained in my journey served as foresight for theirs.
The lessons from Girl Power Club stretched further into my life than I had ever anticipated. I had always been ambitious and driven, but teaching those skills reinforced their importance. In September of 2020, I was hired at Mathnasium, a learning center for children. The confidence I had built through the creation and facilitation of Girl Power Club allowed me to quickly become comfortable and thrive in my position. Recently, I acquired the title of Lead Instructional Assistant and now train new hires in addition to my teaching and administrative tasks.
Because of what I had learned from myself and the girls of Girl Power Club, I’ve seen the power of stepping out of my comfort zone. Applying to Mathnasium was originally intimidating, as I felt I was not qualified. A year later, I’ve been put fully in charge of setting up and organizing a new center in a nearby town.
My success in one position allowed my confidence to build on itself, and I’ve since started a second job at an escape room, became certified as a soccer referee, and began an internship at my school. Stepping outside of my comfort zone is no longer uncomfortable.
The theme for one of the Girl Power Club meetings was personal strengths. In teaching this topic to younger girls, I recognized and embraced my own: leadership, determination, diligence. “Despite not being an expert, I believe that my confidence in my own unique abilities allows me to thrive wherever I am.”
6750 Crescent Woods Circle
Lakeland FL 33813