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Girl Scouts in Nassau and Suffolk Counties Earn Gold Award Scholarships for Tackling Important Issues in their Communities

Girl Scouts Mary Fernandez and Sofia Haskelson earned a national scholarship for contributing to a lasting change regarding consent and sight.

[LONG ISLAND, NY]—The Girl Scouts of Nassau and Suffolk Counties are proud to announce the 2021 GSUSA Gold Award Scholarship has been awarded to two local Girl Scout Gold Award recipients: Mary Fernandez, of Nassau County, and Sofia Haskelson, of Suffolk County.  

Gold Award Girl Scout Mary Fernandez, from Herricks Hamlet, was awarded a national scholarship from Girl Scouts USA. Through her project, “Not ‘Me Too,’” she educated children and teens in her community about consent, what it is and why it is important. For children, she wrote a children’s book titled No Means No, Yes Means Yes! that her elementary school integrated into their Family Life curriculum. For teens, she used a more mature approach and created a comprehensive presentation explaining consent that her high school added to its health curriculum. Additionally, Mary hosted a self-defense class for her community to empower and prepare individuals to defend themselves and respect their bodies so they can feel safer.

Gold Award Girl Scout Sofia Haskelson, from Huntington, previously received the Bronze and Silver awards. This year was no exception for her hard work as she earned her Gold Award and a national scholarship from Girl Scouts USA. Her project, “Living Through the Eyes,'' focused on raising awareness about eye conditions that affect various individuals in the area. However, not every person can treat their condition, so Sofia implemented an eyeglasses donation program to assist people suffering from eye conditions but cannot afford glasses. For the project to have a holistic approach, she also created and donated over 400 fabric eyeglasses cases.

“It is impressive how these girls can be so observant of their communities and create such a huge impact. Girl Scouts teach girls they have a responsibility to contribute to their community and that, regardless of their age, they can influence people around them,” said Randell Bynum, CEO of Girl Scouts of Nassau County. “They are challenged to become their best selves and create long-lasting changes in the communities, whether it's their high school, their neighborhoods, or their future jobs. I’m incredibly proud to see them recognized for their hard work by this national scholarship.”

As they take action to transform their world, the Gold Award Program has a positive and lasting effect on girls who participate. Gold Award Girl Scouts gain a range of skills—such as leadership, teamwork and problem solving—that they will find useful not only for the activities and experiences they have access to in Girl Scouts but throughout their lives. The 2021 report by the Girl Scout Research Institute shows that close to 90% of women who earned a Gold Award confirmed their projects contributed to their career successes and that earning their Gold Award equipped them to solve problems in their communities. Also, their projects helped them develop interests in different fields, including the environment, business and/or STEM. Additionally, Girl Scout Gold Award alumnae show higher levels of courage, confidence and positive values. In fact, over 80% continue to be volunteers with an organization.

“Throughout the years, our organization gives girls a toolkit of skills that prepare them for the next milestone. They show confidence by choosing the topics they are interested in and they show persistence by tackling the topics from different angles, many times targeting different age groups to get results. From medical conditions to social changes, we see how girls can be creative and innovative to find solutions to the issue in question,” said Tammy S. Severino, Interim President and CEO of Girl Scouts of Suffolk County.

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We Are Girl Scouts: Girl Scouts bring their dreams to life and work together to build a better world. Through programs in Nassau County, across Long Island and from coast to coast, Girl Scouts of all backgrounds and abilities can be unapologetically themselves as they discover their strengths and rise to meet new challenges—whether they want to climb to the top of a tree or to the top of their class, lace up their boots for a hike or advocate for climate justice, or make their first best friends. Backed by trusted adult volunteers, mentors, and millions of alums, Girl Scouts lead the way as they find their voices and make changes that affect the issues most important to them. To join us, volunteer, reconnect, or donate, visit or