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The One Decision My Mom Made To Prepare Me For A Lifetime Of Leadership

October 14, 2017

Thank you Girl Scouts for sponsoring this post!

As a child I got in trouble every day at school for talking too much. I was very chatty and preferred to work on my school work while discussing what went down between Steve Urkel and Laura on the tv show “Family Matters” the night before instead of working in stupid silence. I mean come on, I hadn’t seen my friend Jennifer in 17 hours and we just had so much to catch up on! But this just wasn’t cool. My teacher forbade this and I found myself constantly defending the right to work and speak quietly because after all the two could happen at the same time –duhh!

Every evening I would go home with a note from my teacher explaining how “Jenell is constantly talking in class; Jenell is constantly distracting other children in class; Jenell is constantly arguing with me in class.” My mom would beg and plead with me to just go to school and sit quietly. I would defend myself ad nauseum. “Mom, I am doing my work. I finished everything she gave me. Mom I wasn’t talking loudly. Mom I was talking and doing my work at the same time.” But my mom just wanted me to do exactly what the teacher said. I would promise her every evening to be quiet the next day… but I am who I am.

It was evident to my mom that I would benefit greatly from an extracurricular activity where I could be social. After a discussion – wait was it even a discussion? I’m pretty sure I knew I wanted to be a Girl Scout — we agreed to sign me up to join a local Girl Scout troop. I wanted to wear that brown Brownie uniform and sash so badly I just couldn’t contain myself. As a Girl Scout I tried out so many new things that I never would have tried before and through my experience I developed a range of skills and naturally I took on many leadership roles. What I loved the most was that my troop leader allowed me to talk as much as I wanted and played into my strength of talking by assigning me roles where I would have to talk and present. It was here I was first introduced to one of the things I do for a living, “public speaking.” I was highly encouraged to just be myself. I would also like to note that I was the only black girl in my troop and at the time I didn’t realize I was the only black girl in my troop. I always felt like I was with my sisters and never made to feel different when with my troop.

The Girl Scouts program takes the potential of girls, combines it with robust skill-building programming, and adds caring adult mentors and strong female role models. The relationships I’ve had with my leaders and mentors had such a profound effect on me that I was inspired to go on and become a troop leader and let me tell you – I loved every minute of it. I worked with the Brownies weekly teaching them how to dance, how to problem solve, we did arts and crafts, science projects, I taught them how to be risk takers, we laughed at both funny and corny jokes, we’d go on adventures and I taught them how to approach tasks critically. I got to put all that talking I loved to do to great use with these girls. We developed relationships that bonded us and I empowered them to be positive and forward thinking through the way I carried myself along with my positive nature, my positive thinking and my positive language.

I’m now an entrepreneur of a natural hair magazine where I empower women to love their natural selves by educating them on how to care and style their hair without chemicals. I’m a wife to the most supportive husband and I’m a mom to two smart adorable children. I get to pass down so many of my experiences as a Girl Scout and a Girl Scout troop leader down to both of my children. I noticed some time last year that my daughter Elle who is now 3 enjoyed working with me. While in the office, she helps get papers from the printer, she assists with organizing my shelves, she supports with packing shipments and she really likes helping me setup my office when it’s time to film videos for my youtube channel. She and I started a youtube channel for children where I’m teaching her how to produce, direct and create video content. She’s learning so much and her public speaking skills are getting so much stronger. She is very much like me in her ability to take risks and try new things. I’m often motivated by her fearlessness. I know she’d make a fantastic Girl Scout someday if she chooses.

Girl Scouts unleashes the G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ in every girl, preparing her for a lifetime of leadership—from taking a night- time hike under the stars to accepting a mission on the International Space Station; from lobbying the city council with her troop to holding a seat in Congress; from running her own cookie business today to tackling cybersecurity tomorrow.

Girl Scouts is proven to help girls thrive in five key ways as they:
•Develop a strong sense of self.
•Display positive values.
•Seek challenges and learn from setbacks.
•Form and maintain healthy relationships.
•Identify and solve problems in the community.

Do you believe in the power of G.I.R.L.?

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  • Reply Jenn October 18, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    This is very empowering. Sounds like you had a fantastic mother. Our girls are already grown, and one has daughters of her own now. I’m going to forward this blog post to her. I think all mothers show read it.

    • Reply Jenell B Stewart October 18, 2017 at 12:37 pm

      My mom is dope. Thank you for sharing with your daughter, if she has a chatty cathy it will touch her personally. Really appreciate it.

    • Reply Kairis Roach November 1, 2017 at 7:22 am

      A former Girl Scout and chatter box, Girl Scouts is an excellent group for any young lady to be part of .

  • Reply Sapphire Kharyzma October 18, 2017 at 10:54 pm

    I love your mom’s approach to making you a pioneer. Girls scouts are so valuable to the enrichment of our young queens. I used to be a troop leader lol. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Reply Nikki October 19, 2017 at 9:24 am

    Childhood you would get along great with my son, lol. He used to get in trouble for talking all the time. Now he’s cyber schooled, so he can chat away! The Girl Scouts was a great way to direct your energy into something positive. I was a Brownie when I was little. I rocked those cookie sales!

  • Reply Melanie October 19, 2017 at 10:01 am

    My daughter is very talkative, as well. She always gets in trouble for that at school. I have heard a lot of great things about the Girl Scouts. Your mom sounds like a very wise woman.

  • Reply Karlyn Cruz October 19, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    Ha! ha! I was the exact same! I was so chatty my parents heard from the teacher almost every day! lol! My mom never took me to girl scouts or anything like that though. I just got in trouble. This is definitely very empowering and it’s great that you were able to use it in a very positive way.

  • Reply Aileen Adalid October 20, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    I love your mom! She sounds almost the same as mine. I personally had a great time being a part of Girl Scouts in my country and it surely was an experience that I really loved. It helped hone camaraderie too!

  • Reply Mike October 20, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    We love the scouts system (boys and girls!). Pretty excited to see the boy scouts opening their doors to girls. Wondering what your thoughts on that new development, as compared to girls sticking to girl scouts? I can see pros and cons.

  • Reply cynthia rochez November 1, 2017 at 6:08 am

    Leadership is to empower. Thank you for sharing!!!

  • Reply Sherletha November 1, 2017 at 6:17 am

    Awesome testimony. I too was a Brownie then a Girl Scout. It’s was an opportunity to meet new friends (I was shy) & learn new skills. Now I’m an Adventure Leader at my church. Very similar to Girl Scouts. However, we help our kids ages 3-10 begin a relationship with Christ. I too was a part of this group. Then on to mecome a Pathfinder. The kids also learn vital survival skills too. Never in a million years did I think I would be doing this. So I’m very grateful for both organizations. Thanks again for sharing.

  • Reply Shereese November 1, 2017 at 7:03 am

    Thats awesome your mom believed in you and didn’t try to stop your goals. We need more mother’s like her.

  • Reply Cathy Cole November 1, 2017 at 7:16 am

    I think it’s so amazing to have a group like the Girl Scouts the times that we are living in and everything that’s going on in the world today we need more organization like this I’m going to put my niece Aaliyah in the program awesome testimony.

  • Reply Ryan, @prettyRyan November 1, 2017 at 7:48 am

    I wish I could have finished Girl Scouts. My troop leader was unable to continue after getting pregnant and none of the other parents stepped up. I was a Brownie 🙂

  • Reply Jolna November 1, 2017 at 8:17 am

    I absolutely believe in the power of girl!!! I love programs with a “success” story like this. As a mom of a 7 year old, I am currently looking for a program that will encourage my daughter to be fearless but also work with what she is comfortable with now. Your views and positive nature never ceases to amaze me Jenell. I’ll definitely be looking into the Girl Scout program for my baby girl.

  • Reply Renisha Thomas November 1, 2017 at 8:21 am

    I was a former Girl Scout member in St. Croix VI and I remember the fun times we had, my most favorite was selling Girl Scout cookies, and participating in Camp Out Nights, also earning my badges. I do believe being a Girl Scout member has mindset my knowledge of understanding now that I am an adult.

  • Reply Corrie Napora November 1, 2017 at 9:03 am

    This post is awesome. I try to encourage my daughter that she is awesomely Made. Everyday the last exchange we have is me saying “ I Love You…. Be a LEADER” her response “ NOT A FOLLOWER, Love u too” we have got to raise our daughters to Know and Believe that they are LEADERS .

  • Reply Onyinye Elochukwu November 1, 2017 at 9:50 am

    I sure believe in the power of GIRL I love the fact that girls are now empowered through so many programs, like Girl Scouts. Our daughters are born leaders.

  • Reply Clarisse November 1, 2017 at 9:56 am

    I love this, I was very talkative as a child and so are my daughters so I can relate. Empowering our girls is very important especially from an early age.

  • Reply Rachael Woods November 1, 2017 at 9:57 am

    Wow! I struggled as a child as well with the chatty box in school, LOL! And actually that was one reason I enjoyed being in the Girl Scouts because we could talk, laugh and be hands on with projects. I looked forward to spending Saturday mornings with my friends. Thanks for being a source of inspiration. (rachaelwds06@gmail.com)

  • Reply Tieasha Samuels November 1, 2017 at 11:13 am

    I too was quite a chatter box in elementary & middle school. My outlet was sports. Track & basketball to be specific. I loved the comradery it offered & all the new friends I made.

    Nov 1

  • Reply NIA (@niaspencer) November 1, 2017 at 11:20 am

    I believe in female empowerment because people still believe we still live in a male dominated world. I mean most parts might just be male dominated, but, is as females have so much potential and power to be greatness. I was told recently that “as females sadly we don’t have much say”. And being a single mother since the day my son was born into now, I have a lot of power and say. I was also in Girl Scouts when I was younger, and being apart of Girl Scouts taught me how to work together, how to work alone and the importance of other real world “issues”. It’s a perfect program to meet other girls who have similarities to you and also to meet other girls who are different from you. So learning acceptance at a young age is also very important! (Niaspencerr@gmail.com)

  • Reply Tequilla B. November 1, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    I LOVED being a girl scout too! I grew up in a lower income neighborhood and school so my parents had to find something to hold my interest. I think going to the mountains was my favorite part and doing arts and crafts. It lead me to owning my own business as a custom cake decorator. Awesome post. (queent2007@yahoo.com)

  • Reply Lorine L. November 1, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    When I was younger I always thought how cool it would be to be part of the girl scouts, but unfortunately because my parents worked I would have to help with taking care of my siblings. In the mist of that looking back I had girl/ woman power in front of me. My mom came home from a day of work only to continue to work. Having to prepare dinner, make sure we were cleaned and feed (because I could only do so much as a little kid), just making sure her household was good. I look back and can say I had that girl power right in front of me and now that has powered me to do the same for my own family. Girls Rock!

  • Reply Treia November 1, 2017 at 10:55 pm

    I was a Girls Scout for a short period of time. It was something I wanted to do as a child, but I was involved in too many other activities. I was a dreamer & didn’t realize it took true commitment. It sounds like the organization was a perfect fit for you.

  • Reply Samara Diggs November 1, 2017 at 11:10 pm

    awesome event. We need this in Connecticut.

  • Reply Megan December 28, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    Loved this post! I found it on Girl Scout’s Facebook feed today . . . but I’ve been a huge fan of Elle and your YouTube channel for a while now . . . so fun to hear about your scouting history! Proud to be your Girl Scout sister – and I hope that Elle, if she chooses to join, will love Girl Scouts as much as we did! Best wishes from Pennsylvania!

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