Jessica Kendell, from Burlington, Iowa, has achieved the Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can achieve. Kendell created the Grayhound Ambassadors Club, an entrance program with an emphasis on relationship building, to help give new transfer students the support they need to be successful.
“It is easier for some to adapt to the new environment and learn about all the school has to offer than others. The ones that have a harder time adapting often missing out on all the school has to offer simply because they are nervous or unaware,” Kendell said. “They feel disconnected from the other students and sometimes even the staff members because they feel as if they are labeled as the ‘new kid.’ In a school my size, it can be intimidating to ask for help or guidance in the process of adjusting to the new school.”
The Grayhound Ambassadors Club will assist new students by taking them and their families on tours of the school, serving as a resource for any questions they may have, and continuing to check in on the students throughout the year to see how they’re adapting. The club also provides a packet containing useful information such a map of the school, a list of school and community resources, a course catalog, and much more.
“The most successful part of my project was the way it is set up for the future. While it is true that all Gold Award projects must be sustainable, this project is set up perfectly to be used and improved upon for the rest of the time the school is in existence,” Kendell said. “Despite the challenges we faced this year, we have already successfully shown three families the potential their students could have at our school.”
How long have you been a Girl Scout?
I have been a Girl Scout since third grade, so 10 years!
What do you love about Girl Scouting?
I love the opportunities provided for me by Girl Scouts! The connections I have made with other passionate girls and adults has led me to become a stronger leader. Getting together with friends to do something fun such as a weekend trip filled with crafts and spa days, ovSrnights at L-Kee-Ta, or volunteering for our community were always something I looked forward to. As you become an older Girl Scout, you have the opportunities to develop a deeper involvement in the organization such as serving on the Girl Board which was an experience I greatly cherish.
What role has Girl Scouts played in your life?
Girl Scouts has been a priority in my life since I joined. As I grew up and became more involved in my school and community, I made sure to leave time for our troop meetings and working on individual projects such as my Gold Award project. As an older Girl Scout the past few years, I have loved being involved and volunteering at events with the younger Girl Scouts such as at cookie rallies and Camp L-Kee-Tah events and camps. Watching my fellow Girl Scouts leave the organization as we grew up also had a substantial impact on me. When I first put on the sash in third grade, I had committed myself to being a part of this organization for the next 10 years. I had hoped to remain with the girls I started with all the way through graduation, but watching them drop out of Girl Scouts just motivated me to stay and get the most out of what Girl Scouts had to offer. Finally, trying to live my life and making choices that uphold the Girl Scout Law has been kind of like a moral compass to guide me throughout my youth and young adulthood.
What is your next step after earning your Gold Award?
In the fall I will be attending Truman State University to study biochemistry and Spanish on the premed track. I am hoping to attend medical school after Truman and study to become a pediatrician.
Learn more about the Girl Scout Gold Award and the steps to achieve this distinguished honor.