Rebecca Leavens, 15, combines brains with the arts.
Rebecca Leavens started her Girl Scout career way back in kindergarten.
“I mostly just went to hang out with my friends,” she said. “I actually just found that I really enjoyed it.”
Most young men and women join Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts for their love of the outdoors. Leavens loves the outdoors, too, but for the 15-year old incoming Shawnee High School freshman, there was a more important reason.
“I like helping people,” she said. “I like the fact that [Girl Scouts] makes me want to do something with our community, and it also makes it easier to have an outreach and have a support system to say ‘hey if you want to do this, we’re all going to help you.’”
Leavens, who recently earned her Silver Award — the second most prestigious award given to Girl Scouts — based her service project on helping those who want to explore music.
Leavens, who mainly plays the piano, but also plays the saxophone, clarinet and ukelele — “but I don’t really count the ukelele,” she said — was bothered she couldn’t take music classes in high school without dropping her class rank. This is because classes with lab sections, such as science classes for instance, are weighted higher.
“I find it sort of upsetting that, I mean, I can take a music class, but it would drop my class rank a bit because it’s not a lab class,” Leavens said. “I can’t take a music class in high school, [which] I find upsetting, so in middle school I was like ‘I’m going to get people into the arts now so that a lot of people who really do have a passion for it [can make] a career [out of it].’”
Leavens accomplished this by painting a mural on the one of the Memorial Middle School band room’s walls. She also created a presentation for teachers to show students, in an effort to inspire them to get involved in music.
Her band teacher, Jim Sheffer, helped her a lot with the project.
“He let me paint it in his band room, and it was initially his idea,” she said of the mural.
“I know everyone says ‘oh there are a bunch of starving artists’ to scare you away from the arts,” Leavens said. “But I still think there are tons of people who make it and you don’t have to be a famous painter to have a career in arts.”
Despite Leavens’ passion for the arts, it won’t be her chosen career path. She’s only 15, and of course a lot could change between now and when she graduates college, but she’d like to be a child advocacy lawyer.
However, she’s also drawn to the idea of doing something in a STEM field, an area in which she feels women should be more involved.
“I believe that women shouldn’t be pushed away from STEM,” she said. “I want to be a lawyer and I feel bad for saying I don’t want to become a biologist because I’m pushing for STEM. I want to be in an important part of society, but even if that isn’t in STEM.”
Leavens has learned many valuable life skills throughout her time as a Girl Scout. She cites her communication skills, CPR skills and babysitting skills as some of her biggest attributes acquired via her time in the Scouts. She feels all of these skills are very important.
But perhaps even more importantly: What’s her favorite flavor of Girl Scout cookie?
“That’s really hard,” she responded. “I don’t want to be cliche, but I like thin mints!”