Five Coronado High School (CHS) students have earned Girl Scout Gold Awards: Alyssa Agarwal (Class of 2019), Brianna Heinken (2020), Ashley Matter (2021), Lily Roughneen (2021), and Anna Valades (2021).

The Gold Award is the pinnacle of the Girl Scout leadership experience. To achieve it, Girl Scouts create sustainable projects that impact local and global issues.

Agarwal used art to teach youth how influenza affects the immune system and why vaccines are important. For her Gold Award project, she developed an interactive, illustrated book with a team of ten local artists, two scientists, and a Coronado Middle School science teacher. “The Art and Science of Influenza” is accessible to the public for free as an eBook and available on Amazon.

A member of Troop 3289—led by Aileen Teague and Shirley Demer—Agarwal joined Girl Scouts as a Brownie. She earned the Silver Award as a Girl Scout Cadette. She was the CHS 2019 Salutatorian, and is currently studying molecular, cellular, and developmental biology at Yale University. She plans to earn her PhD in immunology and work on addressing unmet needs in global health.

Heinken earned her Gold Award by developing a program to introduce the sport of tennis to children residing at a Tijuana orphanage. Activities she led included basic techniques and drills. During breaks, Heinken provided snacks and nutritional lessons. Caretakers at the orphanage and students will continue the program indefinitely.

A member of Troop 5441 led by Anne Hill, Heinken began her Girl Scout journey as a Brownie. She earned the Bronze and Silver Awards as a Junior and Cadette, respectively. Heinken will pursue a bachelor of biomedicine in neurobiology at the University of Melbourne in Australia. She aspires to become a research-focused neurosurgeon.

Matter, who has also earned the Bronze and Silver Awards, joined Girl Scouts in kindergarten. She is a member Troop 94, led by her great-grandmother, Peggy Powell Olson, for 52 years. Matter is a CHS varsity cheerleader and YMCA Storm Gymnastics team member. She was named one of America’s Top 100 Xcel Gold Gymnasts (balance beam) in 2018, and the 2018 state champion (all around, vault, and beam). She plans to study to become a sports medicine doctor.

For her Gold Award, Matter led an inclusive cheerleading camp for students in the Sweetwater Union High School District. Her sessions increased awareness and participation in Unified Sports, a Special Olympics program that places individuals with and without intellectual disabilities on the same teams. As an advocate for students with special needs, Matter demonstrated how people of all abilities can participate in sports. By creating a culture of inclusion, she helped break down stereotypes and foster new friendships.

Roughneen earned her Gold Award by protecting her peers from human trafficking. By presenting interactive role-play, true stories, and statistics at an informational assembly, she educated students at CHS about human trafficking and how to prevent it. The school has adopted Roughneen’s curriculum and plans to hold similar assemblies on an ongoing basis.

She was CHS’s ASB junior class vice president last year. A member of the National Honor Society, Roughneen plans to attend a four-year university in 2021 and major in business. As member of Troop 5548, led by Sherry Thompson Taylor, she had previously earned the Bronze and Silver Awards. Lily is a third generation Girl Scout; her grandmother, mother, and two sisters were all involved in Girl Scouting.

Valades is also a member of Troop 5548. She joined Girl Scouts as a Daisy and earned her Silver Award as a Cadette. At Coronado High School, she maintains a 4.29 GPA, has been a varsity athlete for three years, and is an officer in the Interact Club. She plans to study engineering in college.

For her Gold Award, Valades developed a fun, interactive STEM program at the Elementary Institute of Science. To help children learn how to use the organization’s existing, under-used 3D printers under staff guidance, she created three different types of pamphlets and a website. Her materials are now a permanent resource at the institute.

The Coronado Gold Award Girl Scouts were among 66 Girl Scouts from San Diego and Imperial counties who earned the award in 2020. They were recently honored by Girl Scouts San Diego during a virtual ceremony (available to view at sdgirlscouts.org/gold). The keynote speaker was 2019 National Gold Award Girl Scout Ana de Almeida Amaral, who described her ongoing work in social justice and racial equity. De Almeida Amaral joined guest speakers Senator Tammy Duckworth, a Gold Award Girl Scout; Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Sylvia Acevedo; Girl Scouts San Diego Board Chair Liza Crisafi and CEO Carol Dedrich.

Addressing the Gold Award Girl Scouts, Dedrich stated, “You worked hard to create lasting change in communities across San Diego and the world. Today, you join an

an elite group of women who have achieved this honor.”

At the end of the virtual ceremony, each honoree received a surprise package that included a framed photograph of herself, letters of commendation from elected officials, and handwritten notes from Girl Scouts San Diego staff.

The Gold Award is the mark of the truly remarkable. Since 1916, Girl Scouts have answered the call to drive lasting, impactful change. Gold Award Girl Scouts are an elite group of individuals, and many have gone on to become change-makers and prominent leaders in their communities. 

Girl Scouts is the world’s best leadership development organization for girls (#BestPlace4Girls). All girls in grades K-12 and adult volunteers are welcome join. For more information, contact Girl Scouts San Diego Regional Recruitment Specialist Jessica Partida at 619-610-0838, or jpartida@sdgirlscouts.org, or visit sdgirlscouts.org.

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