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Girl Scouts shown role models

Panel members (left to right) Sarah Carlson, Erica Johnson, Carmen Odegaard and Theresa Moberg answer questions and share advice with two area Girl Scout troops. (Contributed)

Two Girl Scout troops got a treat recently when they met with a panel of four influential women that included Alexandria Mayor Sara Carlson.

In addition to Carlson, the March 2 panel included: Dr. Erica Johnson, an obstetrics and gynecologist doctor; Carmen Odegaard, a veterinarian; and Theresa Moberg, an independent contractor specializing in organizational development.

The presence of these prominent women acted to reinforce the idea that both leadership and professional positions are attainable and gave the scouts a broad range of experiences to relate to, said Karen Hunt, who selected the panelists.

Hunt, leader of Troop 349 in Miltona, said the panel gave the scouts an opportunity to interview women as part of their "aMuse" journey, while also addressing stereotypes she has often seen in advertisements. The women around the scouts — such as panel members, mothers and troop leaders — have all encouraged the girls to to keep their options open, Hunt said.

Girl Scouts aim to build what they call the Three C's: courage, confidence and character. This approach encourages the girls to interact and get hands-on with challenges, said Hunt. She also emphasized that when the girls are faced with obstacles they are expected to take action and embrace an "I got this" attitude.

During the panel's presentation, when Carlson said she was the mayor, one of the girls gasped. The young girl, explained Hunt, was in awe because she didn't realize she would have an opportunity to talk to a mayor, someone who in her mind was a celebrity.

"She was star-struck and it put some realness to a 'celebrity title' in this girl's mind," Hunt said.

When the scouts took the opportunity to interview the panel members, they asked questions about the roles they have played in their own lives and role models they looked up to, said Hunt.

"We are so much more than our job titles and it showed the girls that they don't need to be one-dimensional," she said.

When contacted later, Carlson offered a final message to the scouts.

"Follow your dreams, you can do whatever you want to do. Don't let anyone ever tell you you're not good enough or that you can't do anything," she said. "Find the confidence within yourself to know that you are good enough."