Changing the World with Science

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Girl Scout Alumnae Spotlight – Muriel Eaton

“I believe that one day I will find the cure for Alzheimer’s disease and change the lives of individuals like my grandmother,” Muriel Eaton confidentially states.

From the moment Muriel at eight years old dropped that penny in vinegar and it came out shiny, she was mesmerized by the power of science.

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From that shy eight year old Brownie Girl Scout to a confident college junior who will receive the WiSTEMM Student Achiever Award at tonight’s Central Exchange STEMMY Awards, Muriel Eaton exemplifies everything we want for our Girl Scout alumnae. Muriel’s work ethic and passion for science is contagious.

As a student at Kansas State University, her professor, who selected her to work on his lab team literally has to force her to take a break every now and then.

“Being in the lab is not work to me,” Muriel said. “It is amazing what I get to do and to see the difference this work will make is incredible.”

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Muriel, originally from Leawood, Kansas is a Girl Scout through and through. She was a Girl Scout from Daisy – Ambassador and like many alumnae, Muriel’s mom was her awesome troop leader. Muriel’s favorite Girl Scout activities including getting outdoors, especially in a leadership role with her service unit day camp, riding horses, meeting and building strong connections with girls from different backgrounds and the ultimate earning her Gold Award and receiving the Beth Winters Memorial Scholarship.

Muriel’s Gold Award project of course encompassed science. She developed a science program for a Title 1 elementary school in Olathe. With limited resources, the school’s teachers and administration embraced Muriel’s project and the kids got to try things they probably would not have without Muriel’s work.

Today, Muriel is a junior at K-State (it’s only her second year on campus, but you guessed it Muriel is quite goal-oriented and ahead of schedule). She is majoring in Biochemistry with plans to graduate in May 2017. She already has her sights set on receiving her PhD in Molecular Biophysics and is researching schools to apply like Yale, Duke, John Hopkins and Purdue to name a few.

In addition to her work in the lab studying proteasomes, which are good protein complexes that can break down and rid the bad proteins that cause diseases in the human body like cancer or Alzheimer’s, Muriel is a member of Alpha Chi Sigma, the chemistry fraternity. Muriel is also a member of the Pershing Rifle Drill Team which performs amazing routines for local parades and other shows.

Muriel doesn’t let anything hold her back, and she credits much of that moxie to the three C’s she learned as a Girl Scouts – courage, confidence, and character. Of course, she has very supportive parents. Muriel’s parents are so proud, and her dad has always told her she can do anything.

“My dad wrote me a letter for my high school graduation, and one line read that it was so empowering for him to see me pursue science,” Muriel said. “I keep that letter close when I hit some bumps along the way.”

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Let’s face it, there are still bumps as young women like Muriel pursue science. Though the biology classes Muriel is taking is a bit more gender balanced, in her engineering and physics labs she is a clearly a minority. As she began classes this year, it didn’t phase her until the second week that she was one of only two females in her 40 student lab.

“I am a scientist, and I am just doing my thing – I am their equal,” Muriel said.

So when the lab breaks into small group work, Muriel is the only female with her male classmates. There was a moment that recently occurred where Muriel’s classmate said, “I am going to check your work because you are a girl engineer.” Yep, it’s 2015 and that really happened!

Muriel could have retreated or called this uninformed male an unkind name, but that wouldn’t be Girl Scout-like, right? Instead, Muriel will show him that her work is spectacular and most likely will have a full circle moment when she needs to help him on a problem he can’t figure out. And, it will happen!

“Just as strongly as I know I will impact the world of science, I know that girls can do anything guys can do and often times even better,” Muriel said.

Muriel encourages Girl Scouts to continue to develop partnerships where girls can build their confidence in STEM and connect with female role models changing the world. We don’t always hear about those role models, and we must lift up their work.

“I want to be that future role model, and I want girls to see all of their big dreams are possible,” Muriel said. “Love who you are, strengthen your talents and interests, surround yourself with supportive role models and just go for it!”

Muriel – we are just so incredibly proud of you! Congratulations on receiving a STEMMY Award! We can’t wait to see how you will change the world!!

Know an incredible GS alumnae like Muriel Eaton? Tell us her story!

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