Less than six percent of Girl Scouts earn the distinction of “Ambassador Girl Scout” and Ava Janish (Capece) of Cranford is one of them! A senior at Mount Saint Mary Academy in Watchung, she has been involved in scouting since kindergarten where she started as a Daisy in Troop 40534.
“As an Ambassador I get to do a lot of mentoring for younger scouts such as organizing and running events to help girls earn skill badges, and most recently hosting a journey for ninth grade girls which is a prerequisite for a Gold Award,” she said.
Ava, who considers the friends she has made and the array of memories and experiences to be irreplaceable, added, “The longer you are involved in Girl Scouts the larger an impact you can have on your community through it. It has opened so many opportunities to service work for me and given me the experience to do it on my own.”
Last summer, Ava and her brother organized a paper product drive for Cranford Family Care, a non-profit organization that supports families facing food insecurity.
“Having done service projects through Girl Scouts gave me the foundation to organizing this drive and bringing about its success,” she said.
Ava’s Silver Award Project has been one of the hallmarks of her scouting career as it focused on educating the public about animal welfare through methods of creating a website and setting up an information booth in our community.
“Through fundraising, collections drop offs, and volunteer work we were able to raise $1000 plus supplies to support Angel Paws, a local non-profit, no kill, animal shelter,” explained Ava. “This project gave me the opportunity to organize an initiative and work with a team to beneficially impact my local community. It was unlike anything I had done before, and the fulfilment it gave me only made me want to continue this kind of work.”
Over the summer, Ava also participated in the Johns Hopkins Engineering Innovation course, a four-week pre-college summer program during which she explored a variety of engineering disciplines through lectures, hands-on projects, and labs. Some of these fields included civil, chemical, electrical/computer, mechanical engineering, and materials science.
“I had the opportunity to work with and become friends with people around the world, which was an amazing experience,” shared Ava. “Going into the course I had already knew I wanted to study engineering in college, and this course offered me the opportunity for me to figure out which field. It really challenged me to explore and consider new disciplines that I had not considered, and it allowed me to delve beyond the surface of what I thought I knew about some of these disciplines.”
“We also completed a final project which was a group design presentation, in which we were given a situation and we had to design a product to solve it. My group's project focused designing a medical device that would assist people who often forgot to take prescribed medications. Overall, after completing the course it only solidified my desire to pursue engineering in college and inspired me for the possibilities that lie ahead,” she added.
Ava’s experience as a member of the Society of Women Engineers at Mount Saint Mary Academy has supported her interest in engineering by bringing her together with peers who share her same aspirations and interests.
“I have learned how diverse the profession is and how it can bring people together, despite different interests within engineering because the fields are so vastly different but still very connected,” she said. “One person might want to be a civil engineer, focusing on the construction of bridges and buildings, while another might be a materials engineer looking at different materials for such a building. In the broader scope of things, we are all connected. It shows how the engineering community is united not only within the school but as a profession in general. We also had the opportunity to hear from women in the field, and we learned about their experiences, but more importantly from their unique perspective as women in engineering.”
Ava is also a member of the National Honor Society, the Spanish National Honor Society, and the Varsity Softball team. Lastyear, she was also honored to receive the Society of Women Engineers Certificate of Merit.
When she graduates from Mount Saint Mary in June, she plans to further her education at a school that offers a competitive and challenging aerospace engineering program.
“I am very drawn to the idea of space exploration, hence my desire to pursue aerospace, or more specifically astronautical engineering (a concentration within aerospace focused on the space side). I want to make a difference in the world, and this is one of the ways I plan to do it,” said Ava.
As she considered how her success as a Girl Scout has influenced her pursuit of an engineering career, Ava reflected, “Scouting has taught me lessons of dedication, teamwork, and how to make an impact, all skills that will assist me in my engineering career. Being an engineer is definitely hard work. You have to be able to see a project through and work through difficulty. It is also a highly collaborative profession. Having the ability to effectively communicate with others and work in teams is essential. In most aspects of engineering society is at the forefront, so knowing that your work might directly impact members of society it is important to understand those benefits and consequences.”