Amber Wilkins, of Rockville Centre, is one out of a few dozen Nassau County Girl Scouts to earn the Gold Award this year.
Wilkins earned the award for her efforts to create a debate club at Malverne High School, where graduate this year. Although the debate club ultimately did not come to fruition due to circumstances out of her control, she put in the required hours and work that earned her the highest honor in Girl Scouts.
“I wouldn't be who I am today without the Girl Scouts,” Wilkins noted. “It taught me how to be a leader, how to be brave, caring and a lot of the skills that made me into the person I am today.”
Wilkins’ life goal is to become a politician, and that is why she wanted to start a debate club at her school. “I always wanted to improve my public speaking,” she said. “[As a politician,] you have to be able to talk about topics you know well, and that's what debate clubs are for.”
The aspiring public official prepared a presentation and spoke in front of the Malverne School District’s Board of Education in April 2019, demonstrating the benefits of a debate club and how it could be implemented in the high school.
School officials and the Board of Education were in favor of Wilkins’ plan, and she went forward to find a teacher advisor for the new club. She’d also collected about 25 signatures of students who were interested in joining the group.
However, Wilkins could not find an available teacher to be the advisor, and the Board of Education ran into budget issues for funding the club. She had hoped to begin club meetings in fall 2019, but it did not come to fruition. Regardless, because of her work on this and other projects, she earned Girl Scouts’ Gold Award.
“It was something that meant a lot to me because I would be able to voice my opinion more clearly by participating in a debate club,” she added. “If myself and other kids could come together and do that, that would be a good skill to have through the rest of our lives. You have to be able to speak up.”
Wilkins also created a website that details step-by-step how students in other high schools could create their own debate clubs, which she hopes will help other students.
Wilkins will attend Adelphi University Honors College in the fall, majoring in political science and minoring in English or journalism, she said.