The Story of Girl Scouts

Laura Bush, Dakota Fanning, Sandra Day O’Connor, Grace Kelly, Katie Couric, Taylor Swift, Barbara Walters, and Celine Dion are all talented and highly regarded women in their fields. Their outstanding leadership is well known but, that which few people realize is that all these women have one more thing in common; each of them was once a Girl Scout. In fact, 64% percent of today’s women leaders in the United States (civic, corporate, political, etc.) were once Girl Scouts!

For more that a hundred years Girl Scouts has been providing girls in kindergarten through 12th grade with a unique opportunity and it all started with a phone call. After meeting with Englishman and Boy Scouts founder, Robert Baden-Powell, Juliette Gordon Low (Girl Scout founder) called her cousin Nina and said “I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world and we’re going to start it tonight!” On March 12, 1912 Juliette organized the first Girl Scouts of America troop in her hometown of Savannah, Georgia.

Even at a time of segregation, Juliette made sure that African-American, American Indian and Hispanic girls could be Girl Scouts. She welcomed girls “who lived in rural and urban areas, to girls who were rich, middle class and poor, and to girls who were born in this country as well as immigrants.” This value holds true today and is what allows the Girl Scout organization to foster a strong sense of community learning, since girls learn from each other’s diverse backgrounds.

A second factor that makes Girl Scouts the largest educational organization for girls in the world (Girl Scouts Heart of Hudson) is that it not only prepares girls for traditional homemaking tasks but it also teaches them how to be leaders. Girls are encouraged to explore careers in the arts, sciences and business. In addition, girls develop their physical, mental and spiritual being by partaking in fun outdoor activities such as hiking and camping.

Last year in celebrating 100 years of scouting Katie Couric explained that Girl Scout “empowers the girls of today to become the leaders of tomorrow.” Katie also spoke with girls at Parkway Northwest High School in Philadelphia and this is what they had to say about Girl Scouts: ” it makes you feel good..to do something positive” while another Cadette (4th level of GS membership) affirmed that her involvement in Girl Scouts helps her ” be strong and who I am”. Luckily, there are many ways to become a Girl Scout so if you are ready to embark on this journey contact your nearest Girl Scout Council to get involved.

Link to Find Nearest Council: http://www.girlscouts.org/join/girls.asp

Fun Facts

  • Ana Maria Chávez is the current and first Latina CEO to head Girl Scouts USA.
  • The national Girl Scout headquarters have been in New York City since 1916.
  • Eleven of the seventeen women in the U.S. Senate were scouts (ABC news).
  • Thin Mints® is the top-selling Girl Scout Cookie in America.
  • Today, there are 3.2 million Girl Scouts!

 

Bring your daughter to work day, everyday!

Take Our Daughters (and now sons) Day has passed (April 28), but there is a group of young Hispanics who work with mom everyday – assisting with or learning how their mamis make an income.

Mia Azul, a 7 year old first grader, interns at her mom’s studio at home. Unlike the traditional experience of Take Our Daughters to Work Day (April 23, 2009 and now including boys), when daughters would be dragged to her mom’s workplace and possibly forced to do some tedious stapling or copying, Mia Azul gets excited to “go to work” with her mom. Even though it is just another room in her house.

“It is interesting and fun.” says Mia. Mia’s mom, Evelyn Escamilla, is an artist, graphic designer and founder of Avocado Street Designs. She designs magazines, posters, and shirts and is a photographer, also.

Mia used to work with her mom all the time in Chicago, IL before they moved to Austin,TX and she started school, “Now, I work with my mom whenever she needs my help and I’m not in school. I like to do my homework in the studio and watch what she is doing on the computer. My brother Diego and I have to be extra quiet when a business call comes in.” Her mom mostly works at home in the studio and sometimes she gets to go out and see clients or goes on photo shoots.

Some of the things Mia has learned from watching her mom are how to use a computer, how to set up a photo shoot and go over a checklist, how to use only four colors and make up a rainbow of options, and how to print.

“It is a good opportunity to learn about art. Kids love to be artistic and watching my mom create helps me learn how to do it myself.” she says.

Mia loves art and sometimes when her mom gets a call from a satisfied client or when her mom designs something she likes, “She (her mom) dances around.” Mia feels influenced by her mom and is considering a profession in graphic design, just like her mom, or is thinking about becoming a veterinarian.

May 2009

Chapters for Student Journalists

In high school, you have school newspaper or journalism clubs after school, but what happens when you go to college? Latino journalism students have a place of their own and it’s called college chapters of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. I attend the University of Texas at Austin and I happily report our group has activated a chapter thanks to the collaborative efforts students.

A college chapter of NAHJ provides its members with many opportunities to grow as a journalist. The chapter matches its members with a professional mentor from the city’s chapter of NAHJ. Members also plan various workshops to sharpen their members’ skills in various subjects, from photography to creating a podcast. Recently, my chapter hosted a multimedia workshop on online photography for students in any major. NAHJ also provides tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships to students interested in becoming a journalist.

NAHJ’s college chapter president at the University of Texas at Austin Eduardo Gonzalez, is very passionate about the organization. “I started to meet different people who shared the same aspirations to grow professionally, [and] learn with people with whom we share culture and language with,” Gonzalez said.

Our chapter’s main goal is to get all of its members to attend the national convention of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists which has taken place in New York City, Washington D.C. and Denver, CO. Speakers at past conventions have included Hillary Clinton, former Mexican President Vicente Fox, and then Texas Governor George Bush. Activities at the convention include cyber labs to help journalists learn about new media, such as podcasting and blogging.

The national convention hosts hundreds of media outlets and young journalists like myself get an opportunity to meet future employers from newspapers, television stations, radio and more. It’s also a chance for an aspiring reporter like myself to meet veteran NAHJ members including John Quinones from TV’s 20/20 or Soledad O’Brien, CNN’s first Latina anchor.

For more information on your local chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists go to www.nahj.org.

By Leslie Rangel

Latina Sororities

In the most recent episode of the ABC Family show Greek, Casey Cartwright, the stunningly blonde and beautiful Zeta Beta Zeta (a made up sorority) sister, planned a “Dry, alcohol-free, Weekend” for her sisters and the whole Greek system.

The popular teen show tunes viewers into the ups and downs of mainstream college sororities and fraternities, including hazing, partying and competing houses. But, this show is missing a big population of “Greek-life:” Latinas!

The show plays on old stereotypes of sororities, from the ditzy blondes to the wild parties, leaving out a big part of what sororities were founded on such as community service, academic excellence and networking.

“In high school you hear stories about [Greeks] getting drunk all the time, the hazing, you hear about the bad stuff first,” Rechelle Lo, vice president of the Sigma Iota Alpha at Florida State University and Cuban-Chinese American said. “We do have fun, but in a discreet manner and we definitely have respect for our [Greek] letters.”
Lo said that sisters in her sorority have to be able to represent their name with manners and don’t go too crazy. She said they have fun and do party, but they work hard as well.

When I wear my [Greek] letters, I’m judged, because they associate me with the partying aspect,” Sanaa Hasaan, Vice-President of the Sigma Lambda Gamma Chapter at the University of Texas at Austin said. She said that she “didn’t do it to be a socialite,” but “joined for community service and principles.”

Latina Sororities 101
The first Latina sorority established in America was Lambda Theta Alpha, an academic sorority that was founded in 1975. Since then, 16 Latina sororities, under NALFO (National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations) have been established across the nation, with thousands of members, each sharing a general emphasis on academic, service and sisterhood. Community service is a large part of Latina sorority life, bringing awareness to Latino communities.

What many senior Latinas in high school don’t know, is that the majority of sororities are focused on philanthropy, picking an important cause such as beating hunger or domestic violence that the sisters support, bring awareness and help fundraise for within their community.

For example, Sigma Lambda Gamma’s philanthropy is the Susan G. Komen Races for the Cure, Sigma Iota Alpha’s chose the March of Dimes, and Kappa Delta Chi’s is the American Cancer Society. Sororities might pick a local cause, too.

Aside from these philanthropies, sisters in Latina sororities still perform different kinds of community service. The sisters of the Kappa Delta Chi University of Texas at Austin chapter, a service sorority, do a total of 600 hours of community service per semester. Vice- President of the UT Austin chapter, Daniela Esparza, said one of their projects was helping pull weeds, paint houses and make dirt beds for seeds to make the community cleaner and green.

The sisters of Sigma Lambda Gamma at UT Austin go to the East side of the city, which is a predominantly Latino community, and hold an annual Christmas drive and provide dinner and give gifts to underprivileged families.

Academics
Latina and multicultural sororities across the nation require a certain grade point average to be a sister. Members must maintain a 2.5 g.p.a. and above. They are encouraged to keep academics a priority. In Kappa Delta Chi, it is typical for members to file their “study hours” every week and to have a “study buddy” that keeps each sister motivated to do their school work.

Esparza said the academic chair in her chapter keeps a copy of tests on file after they take it, in order to keep track of their grades and they also gather every sister’s course schedule and make it into a list to see who is in each other’s class.

Networking
The alumni of sisters in Latina sororities, like mainstream sororities, is vast. Alumni sisters are there for active sisters and newly graduated sisters to help in a job search or for guidance. And each sorority has a list of alumni that sisters can contact.

“I have sisters who have gotten jobs in D.C. with the national [alumni] list serves,” Hasaan said.

Usually, sororities have newsletters and hold events for alumni, such as lunches or alumni weekends, so the sisters can get to talk to the alumni one-on-one.

“Having [alumni] around the world and country is a good thing,” Rechelle Lo, the vice president of the Sigma Iota Alpha chapter at Florida State University.

Latina sorority alumni span all across the globe and include famous sisters, such as Dolores Huerta (activist and co-founder of United Farmers of America), who’s a sister of Kappa Delta Chi and Gloria Garayua (actress, “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Fun with Dick and Jane”), who’s a sister of Sigma Iota Alpha.

The [Maybe] Bad
Each sorority, including Latina sororities, has their own pledging process. Some chapters may be more selective than others, or some chapters may have more requirements such as a higher grade point average, service hours, and even attendance to a mixer. A mixer is a gathering, a party or even a BBQ, where members can get to know each other.

With all of that in consideration, the Latina sorority sisters I talked to all said that pledging and being an active in the sorority is time consuming.

“It’s a huge time commitment, because you’re essentially running a business,” Hasaan said. “But in the end it’s worth it because it helps prepare for the real world and helps you manage time.”

Another assumption about sororities is that they’re incredibly expensive. For Latina sororities, the dues are lower, but it depends on if the chapter has a sorority house or not.

“Our dues (per semester) is the size of a really, really, really small Coach purse,” Esparza said, who was not allowed to reveal dues costs.

Generally, the dues go towards the community service events, t-shirts and mixers that they have with different organizations. Hasaan also said that dues are very low and are $180 a semester.

“If [a girl with interest] doesn’t have enough funds, we’re going to work with her,” Lo said. “It’s about sisterhood and not the money.”

Parent’s Reaction
The Latinas who are first generation college students have to explain to their parents what a sorority is.

“There’s no word for ‘sorority’ in Spanish,” Esparza said.
Esparza parents came from Mexico and didn’t really know about college or sorority life.

Hasaan also had to show her parents, who associated the sorority with stereotypes, that being active in a sorority was a positive experience for her.

“My mom first saw it as a negative,” Hasaan said. “But then she saw how much community service I did.”

Sisterhood
Latina sororities have a diverse sisterhood across the nation and the world, spanning every kind of ethnicity. So you don’t have to be Hispanic to join. Hasaan said she herself was even a mix of Saudi Arabian and Hispanic, as well as Lo, who is a mix of Jamaican, Chinese and Cuban.

With every girl coming from different backgrounds, Esparza said that you have to learn to deal with other people, opinions, and personalities.

“You see new members and relate to them because they went through the same process as you,” Lo also said. “You have a connection with that person around the country and world that [provides] a support system for yourself.”

Lo said that “you come to college to excel, and you have sisters that keep you accountable.”

Sorority sisters can also easily get a hold of each other, even if they are across the nation from each other.

“Sometimes when some of my sisters are in a different state, they’ll call up sisters in that area and have that homeliness,” Hasaan said.

Is A Sorority Right For You?
All of the sorority girls who were interviewed all agreed that any girl who is interested in joining a certain sorority must do their research first.

“I always tell interested [girls] to go check out all of the sororities,” Esparza said. “They might see another organization they like better.”

“It’s a life choice,” Lo said. “You can join a club [in college] and once you graduate you may go back and visit, but being in a sorority, you’re able to have that bond for life.”

By Melanie Gasmen

No Kidding

Being a parent is hard work.  When the parent is still a teenager, it makes it even more challenging to take on the responsibility of another life.  The late nights, the expenses, and the worry, can sometimes be forgotten when a baby’s face is all that someone sees. No Kidding is a program that tries to build a bridge between the fantasy and the reality of parenthood. Eileen Huereque from No Kidding talks about the program.   <strong>What is the purpose of No Kidding?</strong> No Kidding “is a powerful, proven program that engages teen parents as peer educators who educate their peers about the rights, responsibilities, and realities of young parenting,” states Aaliyah Noble from Youth Launch.  “Participants in No Kidding receive paid training in child support and paternity law, public speaking and leadership. They also improve job and life skills, join a team of other supportive young parents, and will receive a stipend for the internship.”    <strong>What was your motivation to work with No Kidding?</strong> “I am motivated to work for this program because as a health educator and someone who was a teen parent, I know that becoming a parent at an early age is very hard; especially when you’re a single parent,” adds Eileen.  “I want teens to be aware that becoming a parent is rewarding, but also tough at any age, even more so as a teen. I am motivated because I want teen girls and boys to make informed decisions about their future, and I want them to think about the consequences of becoming a parent before they are ready. I am motivated because I read how this program has changed lives for the better, and how the teen parents in my program strive to do better for themselves and their families.”   <strong>How did the group get started?</strong> “The No Kidding program began during the Fall of 2004 in Austin, Texas, and during the Spring of 2006 in El Paso, Texas,” said Eileen. “The Child Crisis Center of El Paso was selected as the organizing agency to initiate this program. No Kidding is a collaboration … The No Kidding curriculum was adapted from the p.a.p.a (Parenting and Paternity Awareness) curriculum, which was developed by the Office of the Attorney General of Texas.”   <strong>What other resources or organizations do you recommend for girls?</strong> YWCA, Planned Parenthood and Communities in Schools.    <strong>Who can join No Kidding?</strong> No Kidding is looking for young parents between the ages of 16-24 who are a responsible parent in the El Paso or Austin, Texas region to serve as peer educators. If you are interested in joining No Kidding or organizing a No Kidding presentation for your class youth group, please call 512-342-0424 or visit the website at <a href=”http://www.youthlaunch.org” target=”_blank”>www.youthlaunch.org</a>  or <a href=”http://www.childcrisiselp.org/nokiddingprog.html” target=”_blank”>www.childcrisiselp.org/nokiddingprog.html</a>.

 

Hispanic Mother Daughter Program

The Hispanic Mother Daughter Program can help you find the answers to these questions. This program will show you the benefits of a college degree and help you get in. The Hispanic Mother-Daughter Program has numerous college prepartory programs across the nation that focus on helping young Latinitas like you go to college. Many young Latinas in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico are getting a head start in planning for college through this program.

Sonia P. Briseno, the Assistant Director of the Junior League Hispanic Mother Daughter Program in Austin, Texas, says that her organization is geared specifically toward Latina girls and their families.

We have a career fair in February where Latina professionals come in and talk to girls and say ëI came from a poor family, and now Iím a lawyer. I drive a nice car, I have all these nice things, and this is what I do at work. You can too.

Often times the daughters are the first ones in the family to go to college, says Sonia. Most parents want their daughters to attend college, but they don’t know what the process is. That leaves girls uninformed and unprepared.

Soniaís organization works with mothers or other females who raise daughters, for example grandmothers or aunts, teaching them what to expect when their own Latinita goes off to college.

They offer Saturday sessions where both the Latinitas and their mothers learn about financial aid, and how to get money for college. And they bring the mothers together for support sessions where mothers with older girls can give advice on how to handle difficult situations.

For more information, you can visit the following websites:
http://jl-hmdp.tripod.com
http://www.asu.edu/studentlife/msc/hmdp.html
http://www.sa.utb.edu/hmd/
http://www.utsa.edu/k16/Programs/HispanicMotherDaughter.htm
http://mother-daughter.education.utep.edu

By Alicia Rascon

Is college in your future? How do you get in? Why should you consider college?

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