Spotlighting Highest Award Alumna & Gold Award Advisor Mary Ellen Hughes
For Girl Scout girls and volunteers, Girl Scouting is more than an activity, it’s a family. This is definitely true for First Class Girl Scout, volunteer and Gold Award advisor, Mary Ellen Hughes. Throughout her life, Mary Ellen has found ways to incorporate Girl Scouts into her world, always finding ways to give back. As a navy wife, Mary Ellen found a community in Girl Scouts. As a mom, she found a way to spend time with her daughter. As a Gold Award advisor, she’s found a way to mentor tomorrow’s leaders.
Mary Ellen started Girl Scouts as a Brownie in the 1960s and quickly fell in love with the program. As a Girl Scout Junior, she found herself without a troop, so her mother would drive her to another school for troop meetings. In high school, she earned her First Class award, preparing her to be the Gold Award advisor she is today. In a small world moment, her mom moved and who was her new neighbor? Mary Ellen’s old troop leader! The two are close and keep that Girl Scout connection alive today.
When it comes to volunteering, Mary Ellen just can’t get enough. After her daughter, Meredith, graduated, she thought she was done with troop life. However, in true Girl Scout fashion, when Mary Ellen heard that a troop needed a leader, she stepped up and became a leader for Troop 9. Originally, she had just 4 older girls, all of whom are graduating this year, but over time she added more girls. Now, she has four Ambassadors, three Cadettes and a Junior – talk about leading like a Girl Scout!
“As a troop leader, I get to watch these girls have adventures and journey with them. I feel it’s an honor and a privilege to be part of that,” Mary Ellen said.
For Mary Ellen, one of the most rewarding parts of Girl Scouting is being a Gold Award advisor. For both Meredith and Mary Ellen, getting their Highest Award was an accomplishment of a lifetime. “Earning Gold was one of the biggest accomplishments of Meredith’s life. Her project was for Catholic Charities since that’s where she was adopted from. She knew she wanted to give back to that organization,” Mary Ellen said. As a Gold Award advisor, Mary Ellen gets to mentor tomorrow’s leaders.
“The Girl Scout Gold Award is the power of one girl,” Mary Ellen said.
For more than 15 years, Mary Ellen has been a Gold Award advisor and loves every minute. Girl Scouts Highest Award projects show how much a single girl can do, and Mary Ellen loves helping girls reach their potential. “To see a girl take an idea, carry it through to success and then be able to celebrate it with her…it’s an honor. Only a few girls accomplish the Gold Award and they are the gold girls of Girl Scouting,” Mary Ellen said. After years of projects, staying in contact with her advisees and too many hours to count, she has a few tips for achieving GOLD!
Mary’s tips for aspiring Gold Award recipients:
- Start early. If you earn your Gold Award BEFORE applying for scholarships and colleges, you’ll be able to talk about it on an application and in interview. After years of doing this, Mary Ellen has found that colleges ask about it more than people realize.
- Be open to change. Many projects have recommended changes after presenting. Girl Scouts want each other to succeed, so suggestions only make projects stronger.
- Find a project that’s sustainable. Over time, Mary Ellen has found this is the most challenging piece of a project – sustainability. Think about that from day 1 as you brainstorm.
Thank you to Mary Ellen for your years of dedication to Girl Scouts. You truly are a G.I.R.L. who is inspiring the next generation of great Girl Scout leaders! You can catch Mary Ellen and some of her Gold Award Girl Scouts at the 2017 Inspire a Girl Expo and Honors Ceremony this Saturday! Don’t miss your chance to see these girls shine on April 1, 2017.