Miami Palmetto High School incoming senior Marissa Tellam is working on her Girl Scout Gold Project. She’s partnering with Kristi House, an organization that provides free therapy for children who have been sexually abused.
“The project is mixed between a toy and food drive and a general revamping of the office space,” she says. “They need new furniture and paint to make (the office) look a little more lively.”
Plans also call for doing publicity work for Kristi House.
She plans to partner with the National Honor Society, the Psychology Honor Society, and the English Honor Society for the food, toy and book drive. She hopes to collect new and gently used books, toys and games for the kids.
Refurbishing the office will be paid for by the money she earned from cookie sales.
The public relations aspect of the project will include reaching out to community newsletters and request permission to place stories about Kristi House in those publications so the families in those communities can donate or get involved with the charity.
The more permanent part of the project would be adding book shelves that will hold books donated by the Children’s Trust Read to Learn Program that gives children free books. Tellam is working on partnering with Read to Learn to provide the books.
She’s done similar work for her Silver Award, for which she collected books for Branches and built bookshelves. She also set up an area where the children could sit on beanbags and read.
Tellam plans to complete that part of the project in August and September.
At Palmetto, she will be taking on a leadership position in the Psychology Honor Society.
“The sponsor has talked to me about coordinating speakers,” she says.
She is already considering one speaker that she saw at The MCCJ Camp Metrotown held at St. Thomas University. The weeklong camp is designed to help the 50 student leaders build an inclusive community by embracing diversity.
“It was an intensive week,” she says. “It has goals very similar to the Posse goals. To promote an understanding of diversity and inclusive leadership.”
Tellam said the speaker talked about her own personal story and brought a transgender guest speaker.
“It was really eye-opening to hear such a personal story,” she says.
The talk took the issue from the abstract to a concrete story.
This summer, Tellam will be interning with a judge in the Eleventh Circuit Court who deals with human trafficking cases.
“I want to work in law enforcement,” she says. “I’ve always thought of working in the human trafficking division of the FBI.”
In college, she plans to major in Psychology and then get a master’s degree in Forensic Psychology.
She took Advanced Placement Psychology last year which had a big influence on her future plans.
Her college list is currently at 24 institutions but she expects to winnow it down when she works on the common application.
She’s included Posse Scholarship colleges.
“If I do get that, then I will definitely be going to one of those schools,” she says.
Pomona in Claremont, CA is one of her top schools. If she stays in Florida, the University of Florida and Florida State top her list because of Florida Pre-Paid and Bright Futures. Other colleges include Boston University, Northeastern, The University of Chicago, Johns Hopkins, and Cornell.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld