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Placentia Girl Scout Sharleen Loh Receives Highest Honor for Developing Sustainable STEM Education Program for over 5,000 Orange County Youth

2017 National Young Woman of Distinction Sharleen Loh with Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Sylvia Acevedo

Loh is one of 10 Girl Scouts in the nation named 2017 National Young Women of Distinction by Girl Scouts of the USA

Irvine, CA (October 18, 2017)— Girl Scouts of Orange County announced today that Placentia Girl Scout Sharleen Loh from Troop 330 was named by Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) a 2017 National Young Woman of Distinction, the national organization’s most prestigious honor. GSUSA selects ten National Young Women of Distinction annually among candidates who have earned their Girl Scout Gold Award®, which represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouts. Realizing that the US was lacking a sufficient STEM workforce to fill the millions of job openings projected for the next few decades, 17-year-old Sharleen Loh took action. For her Girl Scout Gold Award project, Sharleen founded the nonprofit STEMup4Youth to introduce STEM to children at an early age, especially underprivileged youth who have the least resources. To date, she has recruited more than 140 volunteers and developed more than 100 fun, hands-on STEM activities that have benefitted over 5,000 children across Southern California. Sharleen and her volunteers host STEM programs at Boys and Girls Clubs, libraries, expos, showcases, festivals, schools, and children’s learning centers across Orange County. Watch Sharleen talk about STEMup4Youth and her National Young Woman of Distinction Award here.

“I love being able to share my passion for STEM,” Sharleen said. “I’ve become more confident and outspoken and gained practical life skills. Girl Scouts has given me the tools to solve problems and make a positive difference in the world!”

Each year, thousands of girls in grades 9–12 nationwide are recognized as Gold Award Girl Scouts for transforming an idea and vision for change into an actionable plan with measurable, sustainable, and far-reaching impact at the local, national, and global levels. Over the years, the Girl Scout Gold Award has inspired more than 2,600 Orange County Girl Scouts to find greatness within themselves and create sustainable solutions to issues they care deeply about. Gold Award Girl Scouts distinguish themselves in the college admissions process, earn scholarships from a growing number of universities across the country, and immediately rise one rank in any branch of the U.S. military.

Nationally, approximately 5 percent of all eligible Girl Scouts earn their Girl Scout Gold Award each year—and just ten girls in this already high-achieving group are selected to receive the National Young Woman of Distinction honor. Applications are judged by previous National Young Women of Distinction, leaders from a range of fields, GSUSA executives, and a representative from the Kappa Delta Foundation, which provides the honorees with college scholarships.

Kappa Delta Foundation grants the selected girls a combined $50,000 in college scholarships, reflecting Kappa Delta’s commitment to girls’ leadership and pursuit of education. This includes $5,000 for Sharleen Loh.

An additional $100,000 in college scholarships, which includes $10,000 for Sharleen, is provided by Susan Bulkeley Butler, founder of the Susan Bulkeley Butler Institute for the Development of Women Leaders. Additionally, Sharleen recently received the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes and $5,000 scholarship for her Girl Scout Gold Award project.  She is also the recipient of two President’s Gold Volunteer Service Awards, a distinguished finalist for the Prudential Spirit of Community, and is a Davidson Young Scholar Ambassador.

Sharleen was honored by Girl Scouts of the USA, along with nine other National Young Women of Distinction at G.I.R.L. 2017, the largest girl-led event in the world, held October 6–8 in Columbus, Ohio. Themed “Experience the Power of a G.I.R.L.,” G.I.R.L. 2017 provided every participating girl and girl supporter with amazing opportunities to celebrate achievements, build on aspirations, get inspired, and gain the tools girls need to empower themselves and create change in their communities―both locally and globally.

Sharleen was also recognized locally by Girl Scouts of Orange County and gave remarks during the September 23rd grand opening of Girl Scouts of Orange County’s Argyros Girl Scout Leadership Center, a brand new hub for Girl Scout STEM programs in Newport Beach.

“Girl Scouts of Orange County has long been focused on turning the tide on the statistic that girls turn away from their love of STEM by the 8th grade,” said Girl Scouts of Orange County CEO Nancy Nygren. “Sharleen is an outstanding example of what is possible for girls when we encourage them to explore their passions, step up to challenges, take risks, and try new things. We are so proud of the confident, courageous young leader she has become.”

Being named a National Young Woman of Distinction, earning the Girl Scout Gold Award, and receiving generous scholarships are just a few of the countless experiences girls have through Girl Scouts. To join or learn about volunteering, please visit

About Girl Scouts of Orange County

We are Girl Scouts of Orange County. We are 33,000 strong-- 20,000 girls and 13,000 adults who believe in the power of every G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ to change the world. With programs in every zip code in Orange County, Girl Scouts offers every girl opportunities to practice a lifetime of leadership, adventure, and success. To volunteer, reconnect, donate, or join, visit