Girl Scouts earn Gold Award

Julia Bennett (left) and Crystal Kwan are among new Gold Award Girl Scouts. (courtesy photo)

Girl Scouts earn Gold Award

Julia Bennett, Crystal Kwan, Niharkika Malhotra and Nicole Poirier of Scripps Ranch have earned the Girl Scout Gold Award. They were among 61 young women honored by Girl Scouts San Diego during a recent ceremony at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines.

Achieving the award is the pinnacle of the Girl Scout leadership experience. To earn it, Girl Scouts change the world by creating sustainable solutions that address society’s greatest challenges.

For her Gold Award project, Julia Bennett started a youth group at Serra Mesa Christian Fellowship to facilitate opportunities for peer support and friendships among middle school students. She also redesigned the church’s dining area to encourage people to linger longer over meals. In addition, Bennett organized volunteer days for kids to help redecorate the facility and lead after-school games. She joined Girl Scouts as a Brownie in Troop 8070, and later earned the Bronze Award, the highest award for Girl Scout Juniors (grades 4-5). A member of Santa Fe Christian School’s Class of 2020, she is interested in the fields of engineering and biology, and plans to continue to study Spanish.

Crystal Kwan created recycling programs in elementary schools throughout San Diego County. Her efforts included leading student recycling drives and donating the proceeds to the schools, and hosting presentations about the environmental need for waste reduction. A member of Girl Scout Troop 3233, she earned the Bronze Award as a Junior and Silver Award as a Cadette (grades 6-8). She is a six-time recipient of the Model United Nations Gavel award, and volunteered at Sharp Hospital for two years. Kwan graduated from Scripps Ranch High School in June and will enter the University of California, San Diego this fall as a biology major.

Niharkika Malhotra led a campaign to spread awareness of the benefits of healthy eating, and how good dietary habits can prevent many ailments. Her project entailed research, collaboration with experts and weekly seminars. She also created an online book, website and a video to further educate her audience. Malhotra joined Girl Scouts as a Cadette in Troop 8140, and earned the Silver Award. She has also received a Society of Women Engineers award, science fair honors and is a martial arts brown belt pursuing her black belt. A member of Scripps Ranch High School’s Class of 2020, Malhotra aspires to become an engineer.

Nicole Poirier created a workshop series to help first- and second-graders understand the need for compassion and empathy. She used her earnings from the Girl Scout Cookie Program to help fund her Gold Award project. Through her sessions, participants learned the importance of being kind and considerate toward others, including classmates. The lessons will be continued through lesson plans Poirier provided to teachers. A Girl Scout for 12 years who previously earned the Bronze and Silver Awards, she will graduate from Scripps Ranch High School next year. Poirier plans to become a journalist and explore the world as well as learn about current events.

Hundreds of family members, friends, community leaders and Girl Scout volunteers attended Girl Scouts San Diego’s Gold Award event. The keynote speaker was Coreen Petti, associate vice president of advancement marketing and strategic partnerships at the University of San Diego, and board chair emeritus of Our Lady of Peace Academy. She is a Gold Award Girl Scout, a Girl Scouts San Diego Cool Woman of 2019, a former troop leader and member of a multi-generational Girl Scout family.

“Gold Award Girl Scouts change the world for the better, and change it for good,” said Girl Scouts San Diego CEO Carol M. Dedrich. “Our 2019 honorees embody everything this achievement stands for.”

The Gold Award enables young women to distinguish themselves in the college admissions process, earn college scholarships, and enlisting in the military at a higher pay grade. Gold Award Girl Scouts are an elite group of individuals and many have gone on to become change-makers and prominent leaders in their communities.

Through programs focused on the outdoors, STEM, life skills, outdoor adventure and entrepreneurship, Girl Scouts prepares girls for a lifetime of leadership. All girls in grades K-12 and adult volunteers are welcome to join any time during the year. For details, contact Girl Scouts San Diego Troop Support Specialist Tracy Browns at (619) 610-0774, or, or visit

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