A Spotlight on Girl Scour Alumna Sanushi Jayaratne O’Sullivan
When Sanushi Jayaratne O’Sullivan and her family moved to the United States from Australia at the age of 9, she didn’t really know what all was in store for her. Upon their arrival to the states, her mother accepted a job as graphic designer for an organization called Girl Scouts of the Mid-Continent Council and all of a sudden Sanushi was an Australian in America and a Girl Scout, whatever that meant.
Sanushi joined Girl Scouts as a Cadette and her troop consisted of six other girls, led by a very committed volunteer, Jayne Vehlewald. Jayne made sure that her troop did the typical Girl Scout activities like camping and travelling, but one of Sanushi’s fondest memories was their annual Christmas “Bake-Off.”
“For a teenager, we didn’t think that being a Girl Scout was necessarily the ‘coolest’ thing to do, but we never got flack for it and we loved it,” Sanushi said.
As the girls in the troop grew older, Jayne made sure that every girl knew about the Highest Awards and encouraged each one of them to earn her Gold Award. Sanushi was totally on board. For her project, Sanushi collected school supplies and distributed them to students who would otherwise go without.
In addition to earning her Gold Award in 2005, she also received the Beth Winters Memorial Scholarship that year. “I knew I wanted to go to a big name school which meant it would be a lot of money and I wanted to be able to pay for it on my own,” Sansuhi said. “It meant a lot to me, having that be a memory of Beth Winters, I hope that I have done her family proud.”
Sanushi went to that big name school; the University of Michigan to be exact. While there, she studied cultural anthropology and was a pre-med student. During her freshman year, she continued to stay active in Girl Scouts and served on the Mid-Continent council’s board of directors as a girl member. She was invited back to speak at the 2006 Honors Ceremony which recognized and celebrated that years’ Gold Award recipients and she got to help present Victoria Immethun with the Beth Winters Memorial Scholarship that year.
While moving to new places was something Sansushi was familiar with, it didn’t necessarily make it easy. “I owe the ability to move to a new state and make new friends to character building of Girl Scouts.”
After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in 2009, Senushi returned to the Kansas City area to further her education at the University of Kansas Medical School keeping all that she had learned as a Girl Scout at the forefront of her mind.
“I was raised to be kind and respectful and sometimes, as woman, that can be take advantage of. Girl Scouts taught me that you can be kind and nice, but that you can also be assertive,” Sanushi explained. “That helps a lot especially when you’re in a male dominated field like I am.”
Sansushi graduated from KU Med this spring and is now an intern in a residency program in Oklahoma. She is the only female in her class. “It’s really important to me now to have that sense of self I developed in Girl Scouts!”
We love seeing all the great things that our Gold Award alumnae are accomplishing and learning how Girl Scouts has impacted their lives thus far. If you’re a Highest Award recipient, we want to hear from you – let us know in the comments below!