Girl Scouts of Eastern SC announced October 9th that Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) had named Nikole Rivers a 2018 National Gold Award Girl Scout, the organization’s most prestigious honor. GSUSA selects ten National Gold Award Girl Scouts (formerly known as the National Young Women of Distinction) annually among candidates who have earned their Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can earn, and one that is only available to Girl Scouts. By designing and implementing extraordinary projects of measurable, sustainable, and far-reaching impact, these girls demonstrate a steadfast commitment, as well as a stunning ability, to create true change.
With a keen interest in the power of history and storytelling to unite people, Nikole decided to share the untold stories of local heroes with her broader community. To do so, she interviewed 29 veterans from diverse backgrounds and conflicts and compiled their stories into a four-hour documentary. By showcasing the veterans’ experiences, especially their struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder, Nikole taught her peers about the sacrifices and severe mental and physical consequences of fighting for freedom. The documentary, "Our Veteran Stories: FOREVER Live Our Dorchester County Heroes," is now a permanent part of the Dorchester County Archives and History Center on Ridge Street in Nikole's hometown of St. George. The documentary is also with the South Carolina State Museum’s library, where it will continue to educate and inspire students of different races, backgrounds, and beliefs for years to come.
“My rural town of St. George, SC is still somewhat segregated, so I wanted to do something that would bring all the people of my town together", said Nikole. "I knew it had to be something really big....and nothing brings my town together like honoring our veterans and heroes. I wanted to capture each veterans' story before they got away as faded memories. Now they have been captured and can live on. These lives and experiences... and sacrifices made for freedom can live on."
Nikole recorded 29 veterans' stories from her town of St. George. One of the criteria of the Gold Award is that it must be sustainable and continued. The current and younger members of Nikole's Troop 590 in St. George will continue the project.
Research verifies that participating in Girl Scouts and earning the Gold Award are linked to developing crucial leadership skills and advanced achievements. In addition to Girl Scouts being more than twice as likely than other girls to identify and solve problems in their communities. The majority of women who earned their Gold Award display more positive life outcomes compared with women who did not participate in Girl Scouts in their youth, including being more optimistic about their future; seeing themselves as leaders; and being more civically engaged, particularly in politics.
GSUSA honored all the National Gold Award Girl Scouts October 11th at a celebratory event in New York City as part of International Day Of The Girl.
To honor the National Gold Award Girl Scouts, a combined $100,000 in college scholarships, which includes $10,000 for Nikole Rivers has been provided by Susan Bulkeley Butler, founder of the Susan Bulkeley Butler Institute for the Development of Women Leaders and former member of the Girl Scouts of the USA Board of Directors.
The Kappa Delta Foundation has granted the selected girls a combined $50,000 in college scholarships, reflecting its commitment to girls’ leadership and the pursuit of education. This includes $5,000 for Nikole Rivers.
Finally, Arconic Foundation has granted the ten young women a combined $50,000 in college scholarships, including $5,000 for Nikole.
Nikole is a freshman this year at Columbia College in Columbia, SC and says she will earn her BA in Speech-Language Pathology.
Being honored as a National Gold Award Girl Scout, earning the Girl Scout Gold Award, and receiving generous scholarships are just a few of the countless incredible experiences girls have through Girl Scouts. To join or volunteer, visit www.girlscouts.org/join.
Here is a feature on Nikole from last year on YouTube with Carolyn Murray of NBC affiliate WCBD Channel 2 on the segment, "Everyday Heroes."
Watch the new national PSA "All Girl Scout" featuring Nikole.