The Future Woman of Distinction Award is given to a Gold Award Ambassador Girl Scout (entering 12th Grade in the fall) in New York City each year who represents the ideals inherent in Girl Scouting.
Gold Award Girl Scout
Interview with Future Woman of Distinction
Despina Anastasiou, a senior in High School, began Girl Scouting 13 years ago as a Daisy in kindergarten. Back then, she was excited to plant trees in parks, sing in nursing homes, and repeat the Girl Scout Pledge which she was so proud to have memorized. Yet as time progressed, Despina discovered that there was more to Girl Scouts than she had ever imagined. This one organization which she thought only existed in her local church was actually just one of the many troops that spanned nationwide. As her knowledge grew, so did her desires to take Girl Scouting to the next level. Each year, her confidence and voice enlarged, and she was finally ready to share more with the world. One way she hoped to do that was through her Gold Award Project, “We Can All Dance,” which revolved around her two passions: dance and international relations. Her dance studio, as well as many others, did not have a program for children with special needs and was not inclusive to all in the area. She joined an organization called Dancing Dreams where she continues to teach dance to children with physical and mental disabilities weekly, always looking for new ways to fit the specific needs of every child. Wanting to take her project further and bring it to a worldwide scale, Despina began advocating and spreading the word that she wanted to collect dance costumes to send to girls in developing countries. At the end, she collected 138 costumes which she was able to donate to an organization called Traveling Tutus. They helped her send the costumes to countries throughout Africa. Her goal for her project, We Can All Dance, made sure that no matter what physical, mental, or socioeconomic difficulty one faces, everyone deserves the equal chance to dance.
Woman of Distinction Finalists
Meet Brianna M.
Brianna is a Juliette Ambassador Girl Scout in Queens, has been a Girl Scout for 11 years. Brianna is a Bronze, Silver, and Gold Award recipient. She recently earned her Gold Award by completing a Take Action Project on spreading awareness on breast health in teens. She also won the GS Carmen Dubroc Scholarship and first place award for the STEM track in the 2020 Girl Scout Leadership Institute. She plays varsity volleyball and is a member of the theater club, TV studio, newspaper, student council, and National Honors Society at St Agnes Academic HS in College Point. Additionally, Brianna is very involved in community service in her school. She was a member of the Junior Leadership Council (JLC) at Northwell Health where she visited hospitals, cooked for the Ronald McDonald House, and worked with health care professionals. As a member of the JLC, Brianna also completed a capstone project involving spreading awareness for mental illnesses in teens. She aspires to be a nurse practitioner and is currently applying to nursing programs in various colleges. During her spare time, Brianna enjoys drawing, skiing, biking, hiking, swimming, kayaking, and Taekwondo.
Meet Madeleine P.
I began as a Girl Scout 12 years ago in the 1st grade as a Brownie along with my five other original troop members. We are now Ambassadors in our senior year of high school.
As a troop, we have shared our time together conducting STEM experiments; researching powerful women; advocating for important causes; raising funds for fellow Girl Scouts impacted by Hurricane Sandy here in NYC and before that the devastating tsunami in Japan; and singing campfire songs at Camp Kaufmann.
As a troop, our Bronze Award was earned for cleaning up a neglected lot and painting an old swimming pool to enable a town on Long Island to reclaim the space as a playground for the community. My Silver Award was earned after two years of work with the NYC Office of Emergency Management on the Ready Girl preparedness campaign and then coordinating a visit by Ready Girl to the younger grades at my school. The Gold Award is an individual achievement, but in the spirit of “all for one and one for all,” my five sister scouts and I each took on a specific role under one umbrella theme. Our thesis was that there could be another way to reach more girls in NYC for whom the traditional troop model doesn’t fit. Inspired by Troop 6000, we spent three academic years bringing GS into an after-school program and working with at-risk girls ages 7-11 every week. For my individual part, I oversaw and coordinated all the administrative and logistical aspects of running and documenting a new program supporting my other troop members, who each were responsible for a different core theme including STEM, Art, Environmental Science, Nutrition, and Sports. While each responsibility area was carried out individually, it was the collective parts that provided a full program curriculum over a sustained period of time.
From my role and experience working on my Gold Award project, I realized many of my organizational strengths and interests. As a result, I am now applying to colleges and universities with strong undergraduate business programs. Girl Scouts, in this way, has helped me learn about myself and apply it confidently in other aspects of my student career.
Meet Kelly W.
Hello! My name is Kelly and I’m currently a senior in High School. I’ve been a Girl Scout for the past 10 years as a part of Troop 4570 located in Flushing, Queens. Girl Scouts has always played a huge role in my life, not only by providing me the opportunities to explore new interests and give back to my community, but by also helping me find my voice and learn more about myself than I ever thought was possible. Through scouting, I’ve rediscovered my Chinese heritage through traditional dances and Chinese yo-yo performances, all the while learning what it truly takes to be an advocate for my community through the Leadership Institute, Powered by Girl Scouts of Greater New York. As a former Patrol Leader, and now, a Senior Patrol Leader for my troop, I’m able to lead and help guide the very same community that nurtured and inspired me when I was younger. For my Gold Award project, I’m currently working on bringing to life the stories of the everyday people whose lives have been changed by COVID-19 through art, narratives, and voices, all of which will hopefully expose the genuine, yet devastating impacts that this pandemic has had on the lives of people in this community. In the future, I plan to pursue a career in psychology, hopefully being able to help children and teens who suffer from mental health disorders. As someone who does, I want to help those who don’t always have someone to be there for them. Girl Scouts will forever be the place where I’ve met some of the most incredible people, all of whom continuously push and inspire me to be the very best I can be.
Meet Yasmine Y.
I joined Girl Scouts as a Daisy 13 years ago, and I am now an Ambassador Girl Scout from Queens. I remember my troop’s biweekly meetings, working with our parish on holiday service projects, and rope climbing at Camp Kaufmann, but now reflecting on my Girl Scouting experience, I realize it has taught me many valuable skills, such as leadership, confidence, and communication, that have allowed me to pursue my passions.
My troop and I earned our Bronze Award by implementing a recycling system at our school. I also earned my Silver Award by working with a fellow Girl Scout to renovate our school’s multipurpose room, which is widely used by all members of the community, including our troop. This past summer, I assisted in leading my school network’s 3DNYC: Understanding Diversity & Difference through Dialogue Network Summer Service Project. It ended up being virtual, but was still an amazing experience. Not only did this program allow me to practice my leadership and facilitation skills, but it also ignited my sense of activism and passion for social justice. I was so inspired that I decided for that to be the focus of my Girl Scout Gold Award, which aims to educate young teens and Girl Scouts about social justice issues (i.e. immigration, racial inequality, LGBTQ+ rights, etc.) using a communication tool called dialogue.
Additionally, I participated in the Leadership Institute’s Business and Entrepreneurship Track, creating a business to help women in Mali sell their art for profit and develop their own businesses. This led to an internship at the Girl Scout of Greater New York’s Philanthropy Department, where I researched possible donors for the 2019 Women of Distinction Breakfast, helping to raise over $500,000, which funded the Council’s leadership development programs for over 32,000 young girls in the five boroughs.
Aside from Girl Scouting, I am the Editor-In-Chief of my school newspaper, a peer leader for a group of ninth grade students, and am on the Varsity Basketball, Cross Country, and Outdoor Track and Field teams. I also love studying Mandarin and throwing on the wheel in ceramics. As a senior in high school, I plan to major in business marketing in college and eventually pursue a career in business.
Messages of advice from former Future Women of Distinction Girl Scouts:
As very accomplished and driven young women willing to take on tasks many will not even approach, I want you all to appreciate the beauty of failure. I know that may leave many of you with jaw drops and frustrated faces, but I am telling you that growth is impossible without a form of failure. It has been proven time and time again so much so that it is the very basis of the scientific method. Science exists for falsifiability, or the ability for a concept to be proven wrong. Failure comes in a variety of forms, not just a grade on an exam, and, most likely, will happen more than once in your lifetime. Life is constantly changing. We can try to plan as much as we’d like but more often than not, most of our life will not go 100% according to plan. It is okay to get disappointed and it is in your nature to expect your best self 100% of the time. I encourage you all to change your units of progress from success to learning and you will be amazed by how much your sense of self-worth grows, and, in turn, your productivity increases. It is important to know when to step back, take a break, talk to someone in your life that you trust (it doesn’t have to be a deep life-altering conversation, a laugh can be the best way to put a situation in perspective when failure comes), and most importantly, gain a concept of how failure can be a learning experience. You are human, above all things, being kind to yourself will encourage others to do the same. You all have the drive and ability to continue to inspire those around you and act as essential role models in their lives and I look forward to seeing all of your unique, bold, and bright futures ahead.
Future Woman of Distinction 2017
George Washington University 22’
Biomedical Engineering with a Double Minor in Mechanical Engineering and Political Science
Future Woman of Distinction and Finalists, this award is such an honor that truly recognizes your dedication and commitment to achieving your goals. Girl Scouts prepares you to tackle any and all of the challenges that stand in your way. However, not only did you internalize the skills that you learned as a Girl Scout, you have already begun to apply them to your everyday lives. You are highly prepared to embrace your next set of challenges and thrive. Allow your accomplishments from your careers as Girl Scouts to give you confidence in all your future endeavors. Be excited about what comes next, know that you are ready, and never stop learning along the way. Keep working towards your goals and dreams and remember that hard work truly does pay off in the end.
Future Woman of Distinction 2014