Carmel Valley Girl Scouts earn Gold Award

(L-R) Girl Scouts Navhaa Sinha, Alice Shashkina, McKenna Pruett, Dora Tabachnick and Caroline Mackey have earned the Girl Scout Gold Award.

Girl Scouts Caroline Mackey, McKenna Pruett, Alice Shashkina, Navhaa Sinha, and Dora Tabachnick—all from Carmel Valley—have earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouting. Each had previously earned their Bronze and Silver Awards, the highest awards for Girl Scout Juniors and Cadettes, respectively. Less than six percent of Girl Scouts nationwide attain the prestigious Girl Scout Gold Award.

McKenna currently attends Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz; the four other Carmel Valley Girl Scouts recently graduated from Torrey Pines High School in June. They were among 58 Gold Award Girl Scouts honored during a recently ceremony at Copley Symphony Hall.

Gold Award Girl Scouts demonstrate extraordinary leadership by identifying and tackling social issues. Each candidate spends one to two years developing and implementing projects with sustainable impacts in local and global communities.

Caroline sought to inspire more girls to pursue science careers. For her Gold Award project, she created Scientists of Tomorrow, a 10-session elementary school program. It included lessons such as “Detective for a Day,” where she and guest presenters led science experiments, and sleuthing activities like fingerprint investigation and pen chromatography. The daughter of Elizabeth Mackey, Caroline—who started Girl Scouts as a Brownie in Troop 1308—is part of a three-generation Girl Scout family. Caroline is a CIF All Academic team member in the sport of field hockey.

When McKenna discovered that although the children of Tijuana’s Niños de la Promesa orphanage lived near the ocean, they did not have access to water safety education. She took action by partnering with a team of experienced surfers and lifeguards to develop a program to teach children to guard against the dangers that accompany the fun and beauty of the ocean. McKenna started Girl Scouts as a Daisy and continued through high school as a member of Troop 1458, led by Kathy Jennings. McKenna, now a political science major with a minor in sociology at Cabrillo College, plans to create policy focused on water projects in underdeveloped countries as a career.

Alice’s Gold Award project focused on honoring and respecting elders by creating a club to perform musical recitals at retirement homes. She recruited peers to help brighten the spirits of seniors through music, while addressing issues of senior isolation, neglect and depression. Alice, a member of Troop 1115 led by Debbie Stickels, joined Girl Scouts as a Brownie. At Torrey Pines High, Alice was a member of the school’s award-winning dance team, and is an accomplished pianist and speech/debate champion.

Navhaa created a smartphone app to help tennis players of any income level improve their game without the need for expensive private coaching. The app allows users to film their play, isolate strokes for review, and instantly identify areas for improvement. After testing it on a sample population, the app has since been downloaded throughout the world. Navhaa was the varsity tennis captain at Torrey Pines High School, and an intern for the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology. She also volunteered at Scripps Hospital and performs classical Indian dance. Navhaa was a member of Troop 1048 led by Darlanne Mulmat.

Dora, who started Girl Scouts as a Daisy in kindergarten, was also in Troop 1048. Dora is a second-degree black belt and the president of her synagogue’s youth group; she has won many awards for achievements related to both areas. For her Gold Award project, Dora—after seeing a need for enhanced personal safety skills for females— educated girls in grades 7-12 about how to defend themselves if they can’t avoid a dangerous situation. She created workshops in collaboration with her Tae Kwon Do studio, combining her love of martial arts with the need for women to a basic level of self-defense.

"Earning the Girl Scout Gold Award is truly a remarkable achievement,” said Carol M. Dedrich, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts San Diego. “These young women exemplify leadership in all its forms.

Through programs focused on the outdoors, STEM, entrepreneurship and life skills, Girl Scouts prepares girls for a lifetime of leadership, success and adventure in a safe, girl-focused space. All girls in grades K-12 and adult volunteers are welcome join Girl Scouts any time during the year. For more information contact Tracy Browns, 619-610-0774 or