PLEASANTON -- Senior Girl Scout Sri Muppidi has plans to make the world a better place -- and just received a national award for her efforts so far.
As part of her Gold Award project -- the highest award in Girl Scouting and equivalent to the Boy Scout Eagle -- the Amador Valley High School senior organized an African cultural awareness fair in Pleasanton that attracted about 500 attendees, then took money raised from that event to create and install a water retention system in Bukoba, Tanzania.
In recognition of her project, she was named one of 10 National Young Women of Distinction for 2013 by Girl Scouts of America, competing against hundreds of nominees from around the country. She recently returned from a trip to Washington, D.C., where she attended a women's leadership breakfast with member of Congress and helped unveil the new 2013 Girl Scouts of the USA Centennial Silver Dollar, which marks the organization's 100th anniversary.
"Her project really stood out because she did something with local impact, then used that and the money raised to do something that had impact halfway around the world," said Marina Park, Girl Scouts of Northern California's chief executive officer. "Her level of organization and confidence and the way she put herself out there is pretty amazing."
Working with a nonprofit organization that promotes development projects around the world, Sri traveled to Tanzania with her father, Praveen. There, they used the money she raised to install a water-catch system to provide safe water for the women's cooperative in Bukoba. They also were able to build a community goat pen and stock it with half a dozen goats to provide milk for children. Meeting Congressional members was exciting, the well-spoken teen said, but she especially enjoyed talking with the other competition winners.
"It was an honor to meet them and to see how passionate they were about their causes," she said. "Some of the projects focused on domestic violence, some on stem cell research and others on education. One of the girls had grown up homeless. To hear these personal stories motivated me and made me feel it was such an honor to be part of this group."
Sri is wrapping up her senior year at Amador Valley High and looking forward to a college career that she anticipates will prepare her to work in support of women internationally.
"I'm interested in child marriage, human trafficking, domestic violence; issues that affect women around the world," she said. "I'm really interested in majoring in international relations or global relations, maybe minoring in women's studies, to see how I can make an impact by understanding gender roles."
She'd like to use the opportunities she's had to better other's lives, she said.
"Girls' education is really important to me," Sri said. "I want to make sure girls in other countries, especially developing countries, have the same opportunities."
Two other Bay Area Girl Scouts, Gold Star winners, were nominated for the 2013 National Young Women of Distinction award.
Sarah Williams, of Pleasanton, founded Creative Kindness, which has distributed more than 20,000 fleece blankets and stuffed animals and 2,000 pairs of shoes to foster youth in six states. Her Legacy Blanket kits have been used by children around the country to create these blankets, which are then returned to Williams along with a refilled kit to pass onto the next blanket-maker. She is working to make the project into a nonprofit organization. Williams was one of 22 Americans selected to carry the Olympic torch as it moved through Great Britain in 2012.
Nicole Hohenstein, of Pleasant Hill, was concerned about the depletion of the native bee population in Northern California and decided to create a bee garden in her community to assist in their recovery. On Community Service Day in Pleasant Hill, she rallied community help to install a garden at Roger's Ranch, a California Historic Heritage Center. Following that, she began a recycling program at the local Century 16 movie theater. She set up a Dumpster for all recyclable items and also began a popcorn recycling system in which leftover popcorn is routinely picked up and delivered to a local pig farm.