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Photo Credit: Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas 2024 Girl Scout Gold Award class with Jennifer Batrkowski, CEO of GSNETX, and Donna Epps, Executive Committee Board Chair of GSNETX.

Local high school leaders recognized for tackling societal issues, including gender disparity and mental wellness.

Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas honored 111 members of the 2024 Girl Scout Gold Award class in an inspiring ceremony at the Plano Event Center, making it the council with the third-highest number of Gold Award Girl Scouts in the nation. These exceptional young women achieved the highest honor in Girl Scouting by identifying key community challenges and developing innovative solutions.

Gold Award Girl Scouts emerge as empathetic leaders, confident communicators, innovative problem-solvers, and adept project managers, giving them a personal and professional edge. Utilizing the resourcefulness, tenacity, and decision-making skills honed during their Girl Scouting experience, they navigate complex issues and demonstrate the profound impact that young leaders can make in the world, inspiring others to follow in their trailblazing footsteps.

The 2024 Gold Award Girl Scouts address a range of issues that American teens feel are most prevalent in society today. This year, the prominent focus areas included diversity, equity, inclusion, and racial justice (DEI-RJ), mental and physical well-being, and environmental sustainability. Each project aligns with one or more of the Girl Scout pillars—STEM, Outdoors, Life Skills, and Entrepreneurship—showcasing the comprehensive skills and values that Girl Scouts instills in its members, helping them develop into well-rounded, capable leaders.

Among the impactful initiatives, Zoya Hussain dedicated her project, "Share-Space," towards bridging the gender disparity in STEM fields, where less than 20% of the workforce comprises gender minorities. Zoya collaborated with The Hack Foundation and co-founder Christina Asquith to deliver numerous hackathon events, teaching over 100 students coding skills like website development and video game design. Demonstrating outstanding entrepreneurial spirit through its effective and sustainable workshop model, her project recently secured a grant from SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell to expand its reach to 1,000 students across the nation. Zoya will graduate from Great Hearts Irving Upper School in 2025.

Representing the Girl Scout Pillar of Outdoors, Elizabeth Cater's project, "Red, White, & BBQ," was designed to establish a welcoming outdoor space at CampV, a veterans' campus in East Texas. Motivated by the troubling statistic that 22 veterans commit suicide each day, Elizabeth embarked on a mission to raise awareness and support. She presented at churches and other organizations throughout the community about the mental health challenges and PTSD that veterans face. Her remarkable efforts for CampV, which provided all essential barbecue equipment, including grills, utensils, trash cans, and a drawer storage system, earned her formal recognition from the Smith County Commissioners Court, which declared May 14 as "Elizabeth Cater Day." Elizabeth is set to graduate this year from Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Catholic School, where she has distinguished herself as the senior class president and salutatorian.

"These Gold Award Girl Scouts are not just participants in their communities but active architects of change," said Jennifer Bartkowski, CEO of Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas. “Each of their projects proves these young women are well-equipped to lead and innovate in any environment and underscores the powerful impact of the Girl Scout leadership experience.”

Changing the world doesn’t end when a Girl Scout earns her Gold Award. Research indicates that recipients are more likely to assume leadership roles in various capacities throughout their lives and are more civically engaged than their non-Girl Scout peers. The majority of Gold Award Girl Scouts agree that earning their Gold Award gave them skills that help them succeed professionally and credit the Gold Award for helping them get a scholarship, highlighting its substantial benefits beyond community service.

Achieved by less than 6% of Girl Scouts, the Gold Award requires a minimum of 80 hours of leading a team in a community service project and showcases these young women as tomorrow's leaders. Gold Award Girl Scouts embody the spirit and values of Girl Scouts, proving that with courage, confidence, and character, they are indeed the leaders who will shape a better future.

For more information about the Gold Awards, including requirements and deadlines to apply, visit


We Are Girl Scouts

Whether they want to climb to the top of a tree or the top of their class, lace up their boots for a hike, advocate for climate justice, or make their first best friends, Girl Scouts of all backgrounds and abilities can be unapologetically themselves as they discover their strengths and rise to meet new challenges. Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas serves girls and adult volunteers across 32 counties. To change the workforce pipeline in STEM and meet the urgent need for female voices, engagement, and leadership, Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas opened the STEM Center of Excellence in 2018. Learn more at or call 972-349-2400.

Media Contact: Stephanie Horne

Public Relations Manager, GSNETX

469-994-1629 |