GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (ABC 4)- It’s back-to-school season, and Grand Haven Area Public Schools and Girl Scouts of Michigan Shore to Shore are celebrating a local student proving you’re never too young to make a difference in the classroom and community.

Laurel Tolliver, a 17-year-old incoming senior at Grand Haven High School and a Girl Scout of 12 years, received the prestigious Gold Award. This tremendous accomplishment is achieved by individuals who identify an issue in their community, research the issue using trusted sources and propose a solution.

By embodying the core values of Girl Scouts, “courage, confidence and character,” Laurel successfully presented a project addressing the gender gap in STEM-related fields to Grand Haven Area Public Schools faculty at Lakeshore Middle School.

According to the American Association of University Women, “Girls and women make up only 28% of the workforce in STEM.” Additionally, they are “systematically tracked away from STEM throughout their education, limiting their access, preparation and opportunities to go into these fields as adults.”

Laurel recognized these disparities and decided to act by leading a professional development day for teachers and creating a curriculum to raise awareness of underrepresentation in STEM. Her dedication to making a difference by identifying a problem and finding a solution had a profound impact.

“Laurel is exceptional. Her project fits right with our district’s mission-success for all. And, if we know that women are underrepresented in STEM careers, then she’s helping us fulfill the mission,” Mary Jane Evink from Grand Haven Area Public Schools said.

“My project was really about inspiring the next generation to go after it and to not be afraid,” Laurel said.

Congratulations on your Gold Award, Laurel! To learn more about Girl Scouts of Michigan Shore to Shore and to become involved, visit the nonprofit organization’s website here.

Sponsored by Girl Scouts of Michigan Shore to Shore.