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Carmel Valley Girl Scouts earn prestigious Gold Award

Lia Cociorva, Lana Kabakibi, Aarya Mishra, Karina Parikh, Maya Rosenbaum and Ava Sargent have reached the pinnacle of the Girl Scout leadership experience by earning the Girl Scout Gold Award.

The Carmel Valley residents were among a record 87 local Girl Scouts who were honored during a socially-distanced Gold Award ceremony on the promenade at Liberty Station. San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan was the keynote speaker. Last April, Stephan was honored as one of Girl Scouts San Diego’s “Cool Women of 2021.”

Just five percent of eligible Girl Scouts nationwide earn Gold Awards. The designation helps young women distinguish themselves in the college admissions process, become eligible for college scholarships, and enlist in the military at a higher pay grade.

Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award by demonstrating accomplishments in leadership, community service, career planning, and personal development. Each girl chooses a local or global issue she cared deeply about, thoroughly investigates the issue, creates a detailed plan to address it, recruits others to help her execute it, and take steps to ensure its sustainability. To overcome the challenges of pandemic restrictions, the 2021 Gold Award Girl Scouts had to significantly revise their approaches to executing their projects.

Lia Cociorva
Lia Cociorva
(Courtesy)

Lia discovered that there are few engaging educational resources for preteens who have a disconnected relationship with food and body images. In response, she wrote and illustrated a comic book to promote balanced diets and eating habits and help them feel comfortable cooking. She also collaborated with a dietitian and the San Diego County Library as she designed a curriculum for workshops where local preteens and mentors could discuss their relationships with food and their bodies. Lia, who participated in Kathleen McCue’s Troop 3892, recently graduated from Canyon Crest Academy. She will major in integrated design and media at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering.

Lana, a Torrey Pines High School alum, developed workshops to educate teens about San Diego’s underserved immigrant youth and the shortage of easily accessible resources for them. She focused specifically on art lessons, working with the team she assembled to create 10 art tutorial videos that are available on YouTube. The group also made art kits for the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to distribute to their youth participants. (No photo of Lana available.)

Aarya Mishra
Aarya Mishra
(Courtesy)

Aarya developed “Project Self-Defense.” The clinics she held at Pacific Martial Arts’ main studio were open to everyone, and she shared the curriculum throughout the martial arts community. To make the information widely available during the pandemic, Aarya developed a blog with life-saving tips. Topics included spatial awareness, self-defense, and the ethics of protecting oneself. Now studying biology, neuroscience, and chemistry at the University of San Francisco, Aarya is an alumna of Canyon Crest Academy and Troop 1475, led by Noreen Nepomuceno.

Karina Parikh
Karina Parikh
(Courtesy)

Karina, a senior at Canyon Crest Academy, launched a mental health, wellness, and empowerment podcast with a fun and light-hearted manner to addressing struggles facing the teenage population. Guests on “Stick 2 You” included a high school teacher, life coach, confidence coach, mindfulness instructor at UCSD, nutritional food bloggers, and high school and college students. Karina Sefkow leads Karina Parikh’s Troop 1739.

Maya Rosenbaum
Maya Rosenbaum
(Courtesy)

Maya ran a successful gratitude journaling awareness campaign to promote teen mental health and well-being. The 11 workshops she held reached 180 teens in four cities and two states. Attendees learned about the benefits of gratitude journaling and how making it a consistent habit can lead to greater happiness and hope. Maya also created a free and fun mobile app to motivate teens to journal. She will soon begin her senior year at Canyon Crest Academy and her final year in Troop 1846, led by Kristi Griffith.

Ava Sargent
Ava Sargent
(Courtesy)

Ava is now a Torrey Pines High senior. During the COVID-19 quarantine, she started a Letters to Strangers chapter at her school. Club members wrote to people who were combating the loneliness of isolation. Ava recruited organizations such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, YMCA: Tommie’s Place, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, North County Lifeline, and Operation Gratitude to distribute the letters to people facing adversity and to military troops stationed across the U.S. and overseas. Mara Bickett leads Troop 1740 for Ava and her sister Girl Scouts.

Through programs focused on the outdoors, STEM, life skills, outdoor adventure, and entrepreneurship, Girl Scouts prepares girls for a lifetime of leadership. All girls in grades K-12 and adult volunteers are welcome to join.

For information about Girl Scouting opportunities in Carmel Valley, contact Regional Recruitment Specialist Tracy Browns at 619-610-0757 or tbrowns@sdgirlscouts.org, or visit sdgirlscouts.org.


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