Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland is proud to announce that Maureen “Reeny” Botros, 17, of Wichita, has been named by Girl Scouts of the USA as a National Young Woman of Distinction, the organization’s most prestigious honor. GSUSA selects 10 National Young Women of Distinction annually among Girl Scouts across the country who have earned their Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouts.
Botros is in Columbus, Ohio, this week, where GSUSA will be honoring the National Young Women of Distinction Oct. 6 through 8 during G.I.R.L. 2017, the Girl Scout National Convention and largest girl-led event in the world. Approximately 5 percent of all Girl Scouts in grades 9 through 12 go on to earn the Girl Scout Gold Award, with only 10 girls in this high-achieving group receiving the National Young Women of Distinction honor.
For her Gold Award project, Botros invented “Illumi-cize” fashion accessories to promote physical activity among youth, attract more girls to STEM careers, and address negative stereotypes about women in technology. She designed the accessories to monitor heart rate and light up to incentivize exercise. But that was just the beginning – Botros went on to host a series of free “Catwalk Coding” camps teaching girls electrical and coding skills they could use to make their own light-up fashion accessories. During fashion runway shows, girls wore accessories they created.
Botros presented her invention to President Barack Obama during the White House Science Fair in 2015, and she received grants from the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) to host her free Catwalk Coding camps for local girls over the past year. Recently selected as a HerLEAD Fellow, she will conduct a Catwalk Coding camp for more than 100 girls over Thanksgiving weekend in Mexico City, where she will use repurposed shirt samples donated by Ann Inc.
“By taking an innovative approach to all-girl STEM education, I hope to contribute to closing the gender gap in STEM fields,” Botros said. “Too often, girls are led to believe that to pursue STEM requires that they adapt to the male-dominated field. The message of Catwalk Coding and G.I.R.L. is that STEM is already compatible with their interests.”
Her extraordinary leadership as a Gold Award Girl Scout and now, as a National Young Woman of Distinction, exemplifies how Girl Scouts take the lead like a G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader) to make a difference in their communities and the world.
The daughter of Dr. Maged S. and Maureen Botros, Reeny is a homeschooled senior in high school who is also enrolled in coursework at Friends University. A proud Girl Scout since Daisies, she earned the Girl Scout Bronze and Silver Awards before earning the Girl Scout Gold Award. She has been an active member of the Wichita Mayor’s Youth Council throughout high school, has competed in Lego Mindstorms and BEST Robotics, and was a NCWIT national runner-up three times. In the summer of 2016, she was selected to travel to Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California, for seven weeks of Apple Engineering Technology Camp.
“All of us at Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland are extremely proud of Reeny’s selection as one of the 10 National Young Women of Distinction for 2017,” said Liz Workman, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland. “Her Catwalk Coding Gold Award project focuses on narrowing the gender gap in technology in a very innovative way – capitalizing on girls’ desire to add bling to their clothing as a way to engage them in technology. And now, Catwalk Coding is going global! Thanks to a HerLEAD grant, Reeny will bring the program this November to 100 girls in the community center, Centro Comunitario Santa Fe, in Mexico City.”
To honor Girl Scouts’ National Young Women of Distinction, the Kappa Delta Foundation grants the 10 girls a combined $50,000 in college scholarships, reflecting Kappa Delta’s commitment to girls’ leadership and their pursuit of education. This includes a $5,000 scholarship for Reeny. She will also receive a $10,000 scholarship from the Susan Bulkeley Butler Institute for the Development of Women Leaders, which is providing a total of $100,000 to the 10 National Young Women of Distinction.
Congratulations, Reeny, on showing the world how to take the lead like a G.I.R.L.!