Don’t Hold Back

Through The Eyes of A Girl Scout: International Day of The Girl,  Yvette McGee Brown

Through The Eyes of A Girl Scout is a new feature on our blog and is a multi-part series that explores different parts of a girl’s life, impact, achievement, and experiences through Girl Scouts. Molly, our narrator, is a metaphor for every Girl Scout in our council.

Today is International Day of The Girl, where girls from all over the world unite and focus attention on the need to address the challenges girls face, promote girls’ empowerment, and the fulfillment of their human rights. This is a day of celebration to share resourcefulness, creativity, tenacity, and resilience among girls. Girls are empowered to stand with courage, invest in their futures, and believe in their leadership and potential. We celebrate changemakers building strong communities and making a difference, and those who advocate for girls and amplify their voices. And one of those changemakers is a hero of mine, Yvette McGee Brown, who represents this perfectly as a Girl Scout, now a successful and powerful woman.

“Through Girl Scouts, I found community. I found other girls like me, and we spent time challenging each other and pushing each other–all of us dreaming about what our futures could be. Girl Scouts gave us an opportunity to dream big and think about possibilities.” –Yvette McGee Brown

I remember when I received an invite from a friend of my troop leader, Ms. Margret, to attend the Dream Big Transformational Initiative event. The event was to announce that the 220-acre property at Camp Ken-Jockety would become the future home of The STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) Leadership Center & Maker Space. The programming will promote STEM Literacy, and Girl Scouts will have access to a facility equipped with hands-on learning, interactive lessons, and research.

“I decided to be a part of Dream Big because Girl Scouts was transformational for me. It taught me how to be a leader. It even showed me that I could lead. I didn’t even know Girl Scouts gave me skills.” –Yvette McGee Brown

As I waited in anticipation, from the corner of my eye, I saw a beautiful, sophisticated black woman in a pink and black suit. Based on her poise, she looked important.

To my surprise, the woman, Yvette McGee Brown, was one of the speakers that day and co-chair of the Dream Big Transformational Initiative. I sat back and listened to her. I recall why she supported Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland and how being a Girl Scout gave her leadership opportunities. She also said that Girl Scouts gave her the courage to believe she could be a leader.

I couldn’t wait any longer. I needed to know more about Yvette. I nervously walked up to her after she spoke. She was kind and had a wonderful smile, and she had presence. Yvette was raised by a single mother and her grandmother. Education was strongly encouraged in her household. She grew up believing that she should always strive for better. When she was young, she joined Girl Scouts, and her membership with the organization reinforced those values. Yvette credits Girl Scouts for her success.

“I used to doubt myself a lot until I heard a powerful black woman speak. I knew then I could become someone whom people respect and admire.”

Months later, I attended Courageous Conversations Women’s Voices at Columbus State Community College and heard Yvette speak about women in leadership. Once again, her words moved me. I know now that I can become the woman I want to be.  

Yvette studied at Ohio State University and Moritz College of Law. She became the first African American woman to serve as Supreme Court Justice in Ohio. In February 2015, she became the firm-wide Partner-in-Charge of Diversity, Inclusion & Advancement at Jones Day, where she continues to represent clients and amplify girls’ voices.

In many of the events I attended and heard her speak, the same things echoed in my mind. I could do that. My impossibilities became possible. Yvette gave me hope. Like her, I knew that I would be successful if I worked hard and seized opportunities that came my way.

“Girls with dreams grow up to be women with vision.” My mantra by Juliette Gordon Low.

Yvette and Juliette’s (Founder of Girl Scouts) words stick with me. I will continue to make good grades and make my mom and my troop leader, Ms. Margret, proud. I will make sure I learn everything I can in Girl Scouts.

When I joined Girl Scouts, I was a shy kid, but eventually, I made friends, some of whom are now my best friends. Like Yvette, I will defy the odds because I want to better myself.

I want to say thank you, Girl Scouts. Because of you, I learned to have courage and confidence, and I valued the importance of standing up for what I believe in. I discovered that pushing through and overcoming all obstacles was the only way to make a difference. I can imagine my high school cap and gown, and I feel good knowing my hard work will get me there. I know that my potential is limitless.

Because of you, I am thinking about Space Camp next summer and how much I will learn in the program. Because of you, I found my voice and can now advocate for myself and be the first person in my family to earn a degree in astrophysics. Because of you, I am confident in my math and science classes. Because of you, I know I can be an astronaut when I grow up.

I am thankful for my life and the opportunities I will get, but I am most grateful that I learned the most important lesson: if you rise to the challenges and overcome fear, dreams can come true.

“The only thing holding me back is myself. If I don’t believe in myself, how can I expect others to?”

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