Girl Scouts Get Advice to Conquer Challenges

By Jessica A. Roberts
Imagine you are in a car accident and have to be rushed to the hospital. Who do you expect to be there to take your vitals? You’re taking a flight across the nation. Who do you expect to be in the pilot’s seat? You’ve been called into court. Who do you expect to be in the judge’s chair?


On one February evening, Michelle Fisherpoff, leader of Girl Scout Troop 1180, opened a panel discussion titled Girls Conquer Challenges with similar questions. The scouts planned the panel for weeks and invited six women from five unlikely careers for women to discuss their challenges and love of the job.


Dr. Jennifer Mark of Lewis-Gale Memorial Hospital in Salem, Virginia, was a Girl Scout Junior herself and works in internal medicine and pediatrics. She graduated with her doctorate with a class that was about 35 percent women. But she stated that that number was growing. Her father graduated with his degree from a class that was only 10 percent women, and at Virginia Tech the classes were now up to 50 percent women — maybe over 60 percent in pediatrics. When asked about how many women she worked with, Dr. Mark answered that in her field there were two women and twelve men; she was one of the first women in her field, but there are more women in other specialties, such as OB. Her father was such an inspiration to her because he loved his job so much. She encouraged the girls to do the same. Look inside your heart, she stated, to find out what you like and what you want to do.


Firefighter Brooks and Firefighter Winter both loved their jobs and wouldn’t trade them for anything else. How many jobs can you say you saved a dog from a burning house? Or a man from a heart attack? Brooks stated. Winter started by volunteering at 17 and then fell in love with it, so she joined the force. Brooks is the only female on her shift at the station and is often treated more like a sister there. The men don’t see her as anything less than one of them. Unless rank or more knowledge comes into the situation, women are just as qualified and able as any of the men. You need the willingness to learn, be physically active, and help people,” Brooks said. “Everyone has her own qualities to offer, Winter added.


The next speaker, Ms. Hensley, continued to encourage the girls to always give their best. As a girl, Hensley was awarded the Gold Award in Girl Scouts. Twenty-five percent of her graduating class was women, and she has found a great passion as a priest at St. John’s Episcopal Church. Hensley said that being a female was not an issue in the schooling and process of becoming a priest, but in communal care, she was not always wanted by some people. But she never let that bring her down.  She vowed to do her best and does her best not to push on people. She loves her job and knows to trust God to continue to do God’s work. At times it is hard, she told the girls, but I would not trade it for anything.


Dr. Penny Lampros also kept the spirit up throughout her presentation. Dr. Lampros works as an orthodontist here in Roanoke, Virginia, and says that her job is making smiles. She talked to the girls about the differences she helps to create in her patients’ smiles and confidence. A smile is the best make-up any girl can wear, she quoted on one of her slides showing the difference braces can make not only on teeth and smile but on the position of the chin and look of the face. She commented that about a third to 50 percent of her class was women and that despite the extra schooling more women go into orthodontics. With a straight, bright smile, she joked, Girls tend to make the better grades.


Keeping up the knowledge was also a recommendation Mrs. Logan made that evening. She has worked as an attorney at Wilson Law Firm and did an excellent job at breaking down what she does to the 10-year-old girls in the troop. She described her job as the person who will make the argument for you when you feel you cannot find the right words or are too emotional to make a solid argument. As a girl, Mrs. Logan was a Cadette in the Girl Scouts and said it absolutely helped in her lawyer position. The honesty, fairness, and help in community are all values of the Girl Scouts, and lawyers tend to uphold those same values. She encouraged the girls to jump any barrier that comes in their way. Do anything you want, she said. All you need is lots of determination.”


All the girls of Troop 1180 are working towards a Leadership Journey Award by learning the different women roles in life. With the help of a hospitalist, two firefighters, a priest, an orthodontist, and a lawyer, the girls received lots of encouragement to conquer all the challenges that come their way. Nothing can stop them from doing what they love.


The entire panel followed the words of Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of Girl Scouts: The work of today is the history of tomorrow, and we are its makers.


Some of the panel members pose with Troop 1180.
Some of the panel members pose with Troop 1180.


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