From Girl Scouts to Nonprofit Leadership

Girl Scout Alum Dani Wiles is in her third year at William Jewell College, studying nonprofit leadership and organization. Dani was matched with us for Nonprofit Connect’s annual Shadow Day this year and after spending a day with the GSKSMO Brand & Marketing Department, she reflected on the opportunities she had as a young Girl Scout, realizing that those experiences put her on her career path she’s pursuing today.

“Leading up to kindergarten I remember telling my mom how badly I wanted to be a Girl Scout. I was a shy, outdoors-loving, and creative child. I remember wanting to be a Girl Scout because of my friend’s older sister’s involvement with the organization. The vest, the badges, the friendships, and the activities were all I could ever ask for when joining an organization at such a young age. Once I was old enough to become a Girl Scout I joined the troop at my elementary school. Joining that troop not only gave me something to talk about with my peers, but allowed me to make life-long friends with the girls! I was very lucky that my parents became heavily involved with the organization to support my dream of being a successful Girl Scout. My mom went to every troop meeting, and my Dad made phone calls to all of his friends during the cookie season! My parents’ efforts to see their child succeed didn’t go unnoticed by me. When I sold nearly the largest number of cookies in my troop, I thanked my parents first thing! To this day my mom and I still talk about how fun it was to participate in Girl Scouts.

Dani as a young Girl Scout.

Troop meetings were my favorite part of being a Girl Scout. I loved getting the opportunity to see all my friends outside of school, do arts and crafts, and play games. The games and activities that my troop participated in during meetings actually helped me to develop into the confident young-woman I am today. Before Girl Scouts, I was horribly shy around my peers. At my first troop meeting I didn’t plan on speaking to anyone because I was so nervous. Thankfully, they all spoke to me and welcomed me with open arms. Those girls helped me to grow and come into my own. At meetings and in school I no longer kept to myself, I wanted to be social and explore the opportunities I was given through Girl Scouts and my new-found confidence!

It’s been 15 years since I first joined Girl Scouts, which sounds so wild to me! I am a Junior at William Jewell College (Go Cards!) studying Nonprofit Leadership and Organization! When I first went to college I wasn’t sure what I should major in or what career to pursue. This caused me to do a lot of self-reflection about the times in my life I was really passionate about an activity or organization I was involved in and how I could turn those passions into a career. This self-reflection led me to realize the three things that I was truly passionate about are photography, the outdoors, and Girl Scouts. After a few discussions with my mom and my close friends, I realized that I could pursue all of those passions with a career in Nonprofit Leadership! It wasn’t until college that I realized the Girl Scouts was a nonprofit organization (silly, right?) or how much the community engagement, leadership encouragement, or entrepreneurial spirit the Girl Scouts instilled in me had an impact on the woman I am today.

Without a doubt in my mind, I can say that Girl Scouts gave me the confidence to know that I can be a leader on my campus, in the Kansas City area, and in the nonprofit sector. Girl Scouts was the first time I had been exposed to women and girls in leadership roles. Seeing these women and girls being strong, kind, and courageous leaders helped me to develop my own leadership skills and follow my dreams.

I now realize that the skills I utilize every day in the classroom are the skills I learned in Girl Scouting. My experience playing leadership games, getting to explore my creativity, selling cookies, and building relationship skills in the Girl Scouts prepared me to present ideas during nonprofit board meetings, create marketing plans and think of ways to engage volunteers! I am thankful for my experience in Girl Scouts which has given me the confidence to pursue my dreams fearlessly!”

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Dani! We have no doubt that you’re going to great things in the nonprofit sector!

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