Friday, August 2, 2019

Once a Girl Scout, Always a Girl Scout: Girl Scout Alum Caeley's Story

From the Girl Scout Robotics Program to Aerospace Engineer

Who are Girl Scouts? Girl Scouts are go-getters, innovators, risk-takers and leaders. They’re G.I.R.L.S who design robots, learn life skills, improve our neighborhoods and go on amazing adventures. They’re making a difference.

Girl Scouts is a lifelong adventure, full of friendship, connection, service, and fun! Every Girl Scout Alum has a unique story to tell about their experiences and adventures, and we’re sharing those stories.

Girl Scout Alum, Caeley was a Girl Scout for 13 years and continues on as an Adult Lifetime Members.

Name: Caeley Looney

Council: Girl Scouts of Nassau County

Tell us a little about yourself.  How long were you a Girl Scout?  Did you participate in any special Girl Scout groups and/or school teams/clubs?  What are you passionate about?

I was a Girl Scout for 13 years (K-12) and continue on as an Adult Lifetime Member!  During my time in Girl Scouts I participated in Media Girls, served on the STEM Advisory Board, was on a Girl Scouts FIRST Robotics Team, and was a Delegate for my Association (now known as Service Unit). My biggest passion is empowering women to confidently pursue STEM fields, and then after that it’s space!  Here is a link to Reinvented Magazine’s website to learn more about my most recent accomplishment:

Tell us about your time as a Girl Scout. Looking back, what were some highlights, important moments, life lessons, and/or favorite memories?

I was a Girl Scout from kindergarten to 12th grade, and in that time, I think I was lucky in the fact that my mom was my leader through the whole journey. She made sure that our troop participated in any program we wanted to try out from, camping (which I very quickly learned was not for me), pin swapping, DIY pocketbook making, earning our Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards, and so much more.  While my most important moment is detailed in my response to the following question, a close second was earning my Gold Award.  For my project, I started a Science Fair in my school district aimed toward K-5 students.  I was able to set every team up with a high school student to serve as their mentor, and when the actual day of the event came, we had a huge turnout.  Most parents at the time didn’t think their kids would excel as much as they did in STEM topics, especially since most of the elementary schools in my district didn’t have a science lab of any kind to expose the students at an early age.  It was really inspiring to witness these young kids showcasing some really high level projects that blew the judges and my minds.

Did Girl Scouts have an impact on your career choice/ field of study? If so, how?

The most important moment during my time as a Girl Scout was the day my mom brought me to the FIRST Robotics program orientation. Somehow, she just seemed to know that I’d like it despite me not showing too much interest in STEM at the time, and because of that my whole life changed. I decided to try it out and joined an FLL team, which I stuck with for the remainder of my grade school career.  It was this Girl Scout coordinated program that got me my first taste of STEM which led me to become the Aerospace Engineer I am today.

What Girl Scouts skills have you used in your college/professional life?

I could tell you that Girl Scouts taught me how to stay organized, be an entrepreneur, have confidence, etc.; and while all of that is true, the number one thing I learned from Girl Scouts is that you should always leave a place better than the way you found it.  Growing up, I never thought about that concept beyond just picking up a few extra pieces of litter when you’re out camping, but now I know that it means so much more.  I want to be able to leave this world a better place than I found it, and that thought has inspired me to take on efforts to help promote and empower young women to pursue STEM fields.  I started by simply getting involved in already standing initiatives that worked on this mission, such as NCWIT, SWE, and #BUILTBYGIRLS.  More recently, I’ve started my new initiative called Reinvented Magazine which is the nation’s first print magazine written for women in STEM.

Do you continue to volunteer with Girl Scouts? If so, how and why?

I certainly don’t volunteer as much as I used to. After graduating college and starting my first full-time job as an Aerospace Engineer, life got a little hectic and I spent time focusing on finding my routine.  But, now that I’ve been in the workforce for a little while, I have been helping spearhead an initiative within my company, Harris Corporation, to partner with our local Girl Scout county (Girl Scouts of Citrus County) to host events and help local Girl Scouts earn STEM badges.

What advice would you give younger Girl Scouts?
My advice to younger Girl Scouts is never stop trying new things. I very often get asked by high school and college girls how I knew I wanted to be an Aerospace Engineer, and the real answer is because Girl Scouts exposed me to STEM. And even if STEM isn’t what you want to do, Girl Scouts offers girls programs across almost every career field possible, and I strongly recommend leveraging those programs to learn more about what you enjoy doing or even just to help find a new hobby. 

If you could say anything to your younger self, what would it be?

Be brave. There is absolutely no point in being afraid to try something new or go for an opportunity. It took me a while to build up the bravery and confidence to take on leadership roles or apply for something. The worst thing that can happen is you get told no, and then you learn from the failure and give it another go.