Thursday, July 30, 2020

Lessons from Two Gold Award Girl Scouts Changing the World Through STEM

The future looks brighter thanks to Girl Scout alums Akshitha and Morgan.

Check out what these two STEM superstars are up to and how the Arconic Chuck McLane Scholarship helped them give back to their communities through much-needed work, research, and volunteering.


How have the recent global events affected your life and work?

I’ve spent the past couple of months at home with my family as my college transitioned to virtual learning around mid-March. Recently, I graduated from Harvard College with a double major in computer science and statistics. I continue to do research at school, preparing a business case study that aims to understand and forecast the potential impact of transitioning from cars to autonomous vehicles. I’m also beginning to work on analyzing domestic violence in light the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March, there have been dramatic social and economic changes in the U.S. and the rest of the word, and I’m trying to do my best to educate myself and my peers on the current state of affairs.

How can being a STEM leader make the world a better place?

The ability to effectively harness technology and put it to good use makes technologists the superheroes of today and the coming decades. In an era when we want to improve the world, increase accessibility to education, and mediate global warming, technology can be the solution, if used properly and efficiently. We can improve lives, develop cures for diseases, and even address injustices in the world using data and technology. Therefore it is our responsibility as leaders to understand the power of this tool and use it to truly make the world a better place.

How are you planning to use your passion for STEM and your education to make the world a better place?

I want to use data science technology and understand how it can be applied to different industries across the globe. From analyzing traffic accidents in Boston to developing tools that help refugees, I have already begun this journey. While I don’t know where on this spectrum I might end up, I have no doubt that technology will be a driving force in making my decision.

I plan to start working as a data science consultant within the next few months. I am also volunteering, in light of the COVID pandemic, to conduct data analyses of the virus and its impact on society.

Looking back, how has Girl Scouts and the Arconic Chuck McLane Scholarship affected your life?

The scholarship and the Gold Award provided me with the confidence and support to pursue a degree in a STEM field. It also helped me discover that technology lies everywhere, even in a mom and pop store. After completing the project, I discovered my passion for computer science and its applicability to various fields. The project has opened my eyes and mind to a sector, namely technology, that I once found interesting and can now call my “home” for the foreseeable future.


What has your college experience been like thus far?

I am preparing to graduate in December with my bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Utah. My parents have always stressed the importance of doing hard things, and earning my degree has been one of the most difficult and rewarding experiences I have had. Since beginning at the university, I have mastered challenging material and learned to apply my leadership skills to managing engineering projects. Both of these skills have been vital to the success of my senior design project: engineering universal “off-road” attachments for pediatric walkers to increase access to outdoor activities for children with disabilities.

How can being a STEM leader make the world a better place?

Last summer, I had the opportunity to be a part of the Department of Defense’s analytics team, which works to improve the safety and effectiveness of heavy military vehicles. I am excited to join the team full-time after graduation, as I know our work increases global safety.

How are you planning to use your passion for STEM and your education to make the world a better place?

I aspire to continue using my degree to improve and save lives. After completing my three-year commitment with the Department of Defense as a civilian engineer, I want to return to school to obtain an advanced degree, so I have more tools to leverage when innovating solutions. I also plan to give back to Girl Scouts as an adult volunteer. I am moving away from my home council after graduation, but I know there is a need for troop leaders and other volunteers everywhere. While COVID-19 is canceling summer camps and may disrupt troop meetings in the fall, I hope I can provide innovative solutions, so girls are able to continue in the program.

Looking back, how has Girl Scouts and the Arconic Chuck McLane Scholarship affected your life?

Without Girl Scouts, I would not be the person or engineer I am today. I exercised courage at camp when I tried high-adventure activities, like rock climbing, for the first time. I often tap into this foundational courage any time I begin something new, professional or personal. I learned to be confident in my abilities and contributions while representing my council as a national delegate and as a member of the Girl Board. As the engineering manager for my senior project, this confidence has been integral to the team’s progress. Having completed my Gold Award, I understand what motivates me as an engineer; I innovate to save lives and improve quality of life. The Arconic Chuck McLane Scholarship was essential to my academic performance and experience.

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