JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, RANDOLPH, Texas –
An afternoon tea at the Universal City Public Library in mid-February was the centerpiece of a project that earned a young woman from the Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph community the Girl Scouts' highest honor.
Vania Vasquez, 17, daughter of Annette and Tech. Sgt. Jeffery Vasquez, Air Force Personnel Center Office of Staff Judge Advocate NCO in charge of the services law division, received the Girl Scout Gold Award in a ceremony May 18 at St. Philip's College in San Antonio after completing a project that celebrated femininity.
"Earning the Gold Award showed me that I am capable of more than I might think," she said. "It was nice to receive recognition for what I have done and it felt even better having a supportive family and friends there with me to share my joy."
Vania, a home-schooled student who will attend the University of the Incarnate Word in the fall as a theater arts major, said her Gold Award project, "Be lovely," came to fruition with the support of her Troop 614 leader, advisers and a leadership team composed of her troop members, as well as a number of sponsors. They included her parents and local businesses that donated floral arrangements, pastries, chocolate-covered strawberries and other items.
Vania said the two words that defined her project, "Be lovely," had been in the back of her mind months before she started working on her Gold Award, which is equivalent to the Boy Scouts' Eagle Scout honor.
"The Gold Award project should be something you're passionate about," she said. "The Girl Scouts are all about strengthening girls. I wanted to show you can be a strong lady and still be true to your femininity."
The Gold Award challenges Girl Scouts to change the world or their communities by following a seven-step process that starts with identifying an issue and culminates in educating and inspiring others.
Vania said her project challenged the notion that carrying themselves in a traditionally feminine manner makes women look weak.
"It shows grace, charm and pride in being a lady, a strong lady," she said.
Vania's project involved planning and facilitating an afternoon tea at the Universal City Library that was advertised at the library and the JBSA-Randolph Thrift Shop; creating a blog, http://www.belovelies.blogspot.com; and setting up a basket containing a tea set, a scrapbook-style book explaining her project, and tea time recipes and ideas. The blog and basket, which is available for check-out at the library for those who want to plan their own teas, satisfy a Gold Award requirement for sustainability.
Her project also required two rounds of approval by a Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas committee - the first for her concept and plan of actio and the second to determine if the project had earned the Gold Award. The Gold Award is typically an 80-hour project, but Vania estimated she dedicated nearly 150 hours to hers.
The afternoon tea, which attracted more than 30 participants, was a simple way to show elegance and embrace that aspect of being feminine, Vania said.
"Teas also refresh a person's mind and body by promoting fellowship and offering a break from the business of life," she added.