Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Hear It from a Girl Scout: Taking Risks and Giving Back As a Medical Student

Scholarships go a long way in helping girls unleash their potential and become the leaders of tomorrow. Morgan Ferone, a Gold Award Girl Scout from Girl Scouts Hornets’ Nest and 2014 recipient of the Arconic Chuck McLane Scholarship, can certainly speak to this.

From 2013 to 2017, Girl Scouts of the USA partnered with Arconic Foundation to provide ten Gold Award Girl Scouts with the Arconic Chuck McLane Scholarship in recognition of their cutting-edge projects related to science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM). Morgan received the scholarship in 2014 for her project on physics education. She then went on to attend the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, where she graduated in May 2018.

When Morgan first came to UNC, she was unsure which subject she wanted to focus on. But in true Girl Scout fashion of approaching obstacles with enthusiasm, this ambitious learner used her freshman year to explore a variety of STEM classes, such as calculus, physics, chemistry, biology, and geology. She soon discovered her growing interest in science and declared a major in biology, with minors in chemistry and religious studies. Check out her story, her experience in Girl Scouts, and what her life as a science student is like.

What have you been up to? Did you graduate with a STEM-related degree? Tell us about your college experience.
The past four years have been a wonderful journey. I graduated from UNC Chapel Hill as an Honors Laureate with a major in biology and minors in chemistry and religious studies. I loved studying both science and the humanities and would highly recommend it to anyone. Reading poetry and writing essays worked different “muscles” of my brain than chemistry lab reports and biology posters, which I think helped avoid academic burnout. There is also something amazing about learning the mechanics of life in one class and then how it is lived by different peoples throughout time in another.

I tried to take a holistic approach to my activities outside the classroom as well, exploring interests such as service, teaching, and research. Each class activity helped me better understand my passions and refine my goals for the future.

Aside from all of that, I made some incredible friends. Together we mourned the loss of the NCAA Basketball Championships and rushed Franklin Street when we finally tasted victory the very next year. We dressed up in silly costumes and ran the Krispy Kreme Challenge all four years. We lived, laughed, and cried together, supporting and learning from each other all along the way. My college experience is defined by exhilarating highs and humbling lows and by the people who were there for all those moments and the times in between.

Looking back, how has Girl Scouts and the Arconic Chuck McLane Scholarship impacted your life? 
Girl Scouts has had a foundational impact on my life. It instilled a “can-do” mentality in me, which has followed me everywhere. Girl Scouts holds its members to high standards of courage, confidence, and character, and as a result, I know I will always hold myself to those ideals as well.

Being awarded the Arconic Chuck McLane Scholarship was such an empowering way to begin my college career, it was as if Girl Scouts was reminding me (a nervous, somewhat overwhelmed freshman) “You can do this.” Furthermore, the financial benefit of the scholarship allowed me to pursue a passion that might have otherwise been difficult. I’ve worked for two years now as a volunteer birth doula with UNC Birth Partners. This organization provides free doula services to any woman giving birth at North Carolina Women’s Hospital. Serving as a doula has been the most meaningful experience of my life, and I’m so grateful to have had the financial flexibility to do this important work. 

What are your goals moving forward? 
This August, I will be beginning a new adventure at UNC—this time as medical student! While one of my main goals is to succeed in my classes (of course), my other goals center on being true to myself. I know medical school will be difficult, but I hope to do my best to live out my values despite the challenges. I want to strengthen relationships with friends and family, as well as develop new friendships. I want to take care of my body and be a good environmental steward. I want to approach new situations with an open mind and compassionate heart. I want to serve my community and take action in the face of injustice. I can’t help but notice that in several ways, these goals are reminiscent of the Girl Scout Promise and Law. My hope is that staying true to these goals will carry me through the next phase of life.

How do you take the lead?
Taking the lead is all about not being afraid of failure and a willingness to embrace uncertainty. Fear of the unknown can be paralyzing, so taking the lead means being able to accept uncertainty (the possibility of failure) and move forward anyway. Many of the things I was involved in over the last four years required stepping into the unknown. Working in a research lab and attending an American World Health Organization conference were both things that I had no experience with but turned out to be incredibly meaningful.

Taking the lead also involves embracing your passions. In the past, I was hesitant to share my passions loudly, just in case they didn’t work out. Taking the lead means pushing aside that fear to be loud and proud about the things you care about. Whatever your interests are, claim them, because they are what make you unique.

With a Bachelor of Science degree coupled with extensive research and volunteer medical training experience under her belt, Morgan will study medicine at UNC and hopes to continue to positively affect peoples’ lives.

Girl Scouts offers the best leadership development experience for girls in the world. Because everything a Girl Scout does centers around STEM, the outdoors, life skills, or entrepreneurship and is designed to meet her where she is now and then grow along with her. Explore what the other Arconic Chuck McLane Scholarship recipients have accomplished as part of Girl Scouts, and learn more about the Girl Scout difference.