A Londonderry Girl Scout is among the BBC News’ Top 100 Women of 2016, joining the ranks of Olympic medalist Simone Biles, NASA space scientist Katherine Johnson, performer Alicia Keys, and body-positive model Iskra Lawrence.
Erin McKenney, a 2016 graduate of Londonderry High School who earned her Girl Scout Gold Award earlier this year, said she was contacted by a network representative last month. The 100 Women series profiles inspirational women from around the world who’s academic, cultural, or social contributions have made differences in the lives of others- ranging from world leaders to local heroines. At 18, McKenney is one of the youngest women on the list.
Currently a freshman at Lafayette College in Easton, PA, McKenney said she plans to travel to London in early December, where she’ll share her story on camera and also assist the British television network in its quest to profile lesser-known female scientists and engineers. “It’s a great opportunity to represent women in underrepresented fields,” she said.
Encouraging girls to explore their strengths, however non-traditional, is a topic that’s near and dear to McKenney’s heart. Working closely with Girls at Work, Inc. in Manchester, NH, the ambitious Girl Scout designed a series of fun and interactive science workshops for girls ages 8 through 12. The program, which continues to grow and has since been incorporated into a summer camp series hosted by The Circle Program, earned McKenney the highly coveted Girl Scout Gold Award, which is the highest honor a Girl Scout can achieve.
One important component of McKenney’s award-winning program required her to network and join forces with successful female scientists, innovators, and engineers. During her stay in the UK, McKenney will have the opportunity to work in the media café at BBC’s international headquarters, where she’ll help build Wikipedia pages for some of the world’s lesser-known women in STEM fields: many of whom she got to know in the process of earning her Gold Award.
“Girls can be what they can see, so my goal is to make those examples more visible,” she explains. McKenney said she plans to document her travels via her project’s Facebook page, Curiosity Science Program (https://www.facebook.com/curiositygirlsscience/).
The Girl Scout Gold Award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting. Completion of a seven-step project earns girls the satisfaction of addressing a community concern, with eyes sharply focused on the future. Gold Award recipients are highly regarded during the college application process and are also eligible for increased military ranking.
As part of her award-winning teaching program, designed for school-aged children, McKenney designed lessons on scientific formulas and theories, while profiling a female professional working in an applicable field. “We’d build our own rockets, while learning about a woman working for NASA,” she explained.
“Erin’s project and her continued commitment to empowering girls truly exemplifies the Girl Scout way,” said Patricia Mellor, CEO for Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains. “We are proud to support Erin as she works to change the world for the better, one girl at a time.”
McKenney will further discuss her project during an interview set to appear on the BBC 100 Women Facebook page sometime in the coming month. She said her many years spent in Girl Scouts have given her the confidence to continue moving forward. “I’ve learned so much about leadership and about being a mentor,” she said. For more information on BBC’s 100 Women of 2016, visit http://www.bbc.com/news/world-38012048.