In Massachusetts, The Republican reports that Neliana Ferraro, 18, never thought being a Girl Scout would lead her to the White House.
But, Friday she is due to meet with President Barack Obama to discuss her Girl Scout Gold Award project, an effort she created to bring the realities of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on America home to her classmates at Minnechaug Regional High School.
Ferraro’s project was a documentary film and creation of a school assembly regarding the events of the terror attacks that happened when she was in second-grade. She has been a Girl Scout since she was in kindergarten.
“For kids my age, September 11 is just another event in history, but for people just a little older than me it was an event that changed their whole lives,” Ferraro said this week as she prepared to travel to Washington, D.C.
She spent nearly two years creating the documentary and organizing the assembly, highlighting area people who were in some way connected to the terror attacks. Ferraro connected with a woman, Rebecca Blanchfield, a Minnechaug graduate who worked in the World Trade Center in New York City and survived as she was late for work that day.
“She lost all of her closest friends. Her story was very powerful,” Ferraro said. “I spent months talking to these people and looking at YouTube footage of the events. My family would come check on me and find me in tears because it was all so emotional.”
Ferraro will present a short version of her project to President Barack Obama. She will join several other Girl Scouts from across the country at the White House meeting.
“I can’t believe I was chosen for this. It’s an amazing honor,” she said. “It’s not something I applied for or was expecting.”
Patricia Hallberg, chief executive officer for the Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts, says Ferraro is a perfect example of the benefits of sticking with the Girl Scouts.
“She is an amazing young woman who served on our board of directors, and we are so proud of her,” Hallberg said. “There are very few girls who make it this far with the organization.”
A recent alumnae impact study conducted by the Girl Scout Research Institute shows that women who at some point participated in the Girl Scouts tend to have a better quality of life, Hallberg said.
The study interviewed women from across the country who did and did not participate in the Girl Scouts, and the findings reveal that those who did participate have a higher level of self confidence. The study also shows that Girl Scouts are more likely to complete college, vote and be involved in community service.
Ferraro agrees that Scouting has helped her become a more well-rounded individual.
“Being in the Girl Scouts has opened so many doors for me,” she said. “It’s very few the number of girls who stick with it, but it’s definitely worth it.”
After her visit to the White House, Ferraro will head to Boston, where she is to be awarded the Scout of the Year by the Massachusetts Veterans of Foreign Wars. This fall, she will attend Quinnipiac University, where she plans to study broadcast journalism.