Ramya Subramaniam, from Bettendorf, Iowa, has achieved the Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can achieve, by creating a sustainable school supply program for students in need.
“At the end of every school year, students empty out their lockers, finding half-empty notebooks and unused folders. Many of these students either throw away their supplies or leave it in their basement for who knows how long! These supplies eventually are thrown away and end up in the landfill,” says Ramya. “If these supplies are reused by students, there are less supplies in the environment and more in the hands of students who need them.”
After attending a service-learning trip to Peru, Ramya realized that her school supplies could make a big difference for students across the world. Her school supply program will first connect donations with local students in need, including a growing Myanmar refugee population in the Quad Cities and eventually distribute supplies across the world for those in need.
Despite the COVID-19 crisis ending in-person classes early, Ramya collected more than 600 supplies. Students and other community members heard about her mission to reduce the environmental impact of school supplies, bringing Ramya hundreds of lightly used items. Going into the new school year, more than 30 students have already received supplies from Ramya’s program.
How long have you been a Girl Scout?
I have been a Girl Scout for 12 years.
What inspired your Gold Award project?
My school supplies have always sat in my basement after the school year. They are half used, so they probably won't be used in the upcoming years. I realized that once I finish High School, those supplies would probably end up being thrown away or donated if possible. I found out that this is the same case for most other students as well.
The environment and climate change is a huge discussion amongst the younger generation. I realized that students would be more than happy to spend an extra hour to look through their supplies and see if anything can be reused. I also saw that while students in my school may all be able to have new supplies, other students may not.
When I went to Peru for a service-learning trip last year, I realized that the kids there would be super excited just to have something to write in and things to write with. I decided that combining the environment and helping others was my main goal and this project allowed me to do that.
What do you love about Girl Scouting?
I love Girl Scouts because it has created a sense of confidence and responsibility in me, which I can use in other aspects of my life. I have also been able to provide service to my community by working with others to help. It has been a great experience to feel the unity to give back.
What role has Girl Scouts played in your life?
Girl Scouts has taught me to work with others and speak up. I use these skills in school and activities and have the found the confidence to speak with others outside of my comfort zone. It has created the foundation which I am now building upon.
What is your next step after earning your Gold Award?
I will work this upcoming year to widen the reach of this project throughout my school and community. I plan to go to a four-year university to study Electrical or Computer Engineering with a minor in Public Policy.
Learn more about the Girl Scout Gold Award and the steps to achieve this distinguished honor.