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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Nashua High South student grabs Girl Scout Gold for program

By Telegraph staff

NASHUA – Nashua High School South senior Jillian MacGregor developed an after-school computing and technology program for girls, earning her a Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouting.

MacGregor, a dedicated STEM student, began helping others with her computer and technology skills in high school, and is a volunteer in the STEM Discovery Lab at the University of New Hampshire at Manchester. STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math. ...

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NASHUA – Nashua High School South senior Jillian MacGregor developed an after-school computing and technology program for girls, earning her a Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouting.

MacGregor, a dedicated STEM student, began helping others with her computer and technology skills in high school, and is a volunteer in the STEM Discovery Lab at the University of New Hampshire at Manchester. STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math.

MacGregor also mentored a FIRST Lego League team for middle school girls at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Nashua, where she ran a weeklong summer computer camp.

After earning the National Center for Women and Information Technology’s Aspirations in Computing Award, MacGregor received the grant funding she needed to offer her program throughout the school year. The program, held in collaboration with the Nashua School District, trains girls in computer programming, coding and robotics.

Participants meet some of the region’s leading female industry professionals, allowing them to witness firsthand the perks of pursuing careers in traditionally male-dominated professions.

In addition to mentoring younger girls, MacGregor trained older girls who will lead the program in the future.

“They were very instrumental in helping ensure this program will go on after I head off to college,” she said.

MacGregor said she’s looking forward to leading her after-school program during her final year of high school. She teamed up with the national organization Girls Who Code, giving her program an added curriculum advantage.

“We have everything we need now,” MacGregor said. “I’m pretty immersed in all those program languages right now.”

She credited her years in Girl Scouts for giving her the confidence and support to make her dreams a reality.

“With Girl Scouts, I could always be part of something bigger and there was always this core group of girls I could turn to,” MacGregor said. “We tried so many new things, like learning CPR. I’m so glad I had these opportunities.”

Several years ago, MacGregor was selected to serve as a student STEM ambassador by the New Hampshire High Tech Council TechWomen/TechGirls STEM Ambassadors committee. A drum major and three-season athlete, MacGregor hopes to earn degrees in computer science and engineering.

She encouraged other Girl Scouts to go for the Gold.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s really something that helps a lot of people while helping yourself,” she said, “So if you have an idea for a Gold Award project, why not do it?”