Avonworth student wins “Strong Girl” award

Avonworth senior Becca Volk, of Ohio Township, recently was presented the “Strong Girl” award by the “Strong Women, Strong Girls” organization, which promotes the development of mentoring relationships among women. Photo by Tom Steiner for The Citizen

The "Strong Women, Strong Girls" organization recently honored Avonworth senior Becca Volk with this year's "Strong Girl" award in a ceremony held at Pittsburgh's Doubletree Hilton,

Since you will not find her benching 200 in the gym, Becca explains the significance of this noteworthy recognition. "I received this award for the work that I have done in regard to mentoring young girls at the Sarah Heinz House, a local Boys and Girls Club of America, as well as my work with my all-girls robotics team, encouraging young girls to participate in STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math] activities."

Becca said that the "Strong Women, Strong Girls" organization recognizes three "Strong Girl" honorees each year: one elementary/middle school girl, one high school girl, and one college mentor. They also honor one "Strong Woman," a professional who mentors young girls. The award is given to those who embody the group's core values, which focus on creating positive mentoring relationships with young girls.

Sarah Heinz House, where she has been a member for the past seven years, nominated Becca for the award.

"Last year, I was named the Sarah Heinz House 'Youth of the Year' for my community service, moral character, and academics. At Sarah Heinz House, I'm a member of the Keystone Club, which is a teen leadership group focused on community service. I'm also a volunteer group leader of eight third and fourth grade girls, with whom I meet for an hour each week during the school year."

For the past five years, Becca also has been a member of her robotics team, The Girls of Steel, featured in a "Citizen" article last year. "This year I am the business project manager. Last year, I was on the awards team, and served as a presenter for the team's Chairman's Award, the most prestigious award a FIRST [For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology] team can receive. We were awarded the Chairman's Award at the Buckeye Regional last year. I also was one of five presenters at a conference during world championships in Saint Louis, where we discussed how to engage girls in STEM at a young age and how to keep them involved in the future."

"Strong Women, Strong Girls" is an organization that has two central locations, Pittsburgh and Boston. From there, they train college students to serve as role models and mentors to the young girls who participate in the program. Further information may be found at http://swsg.org/

In addition to her heavy schedule of volunteering, Becca, the daughter of Mary and Thomas Volk of Ohio Township, leads an active school life where she is a member of the Northgate-Avonworth swim team, serves as student council vice president, and as the co-chair for the school's annual Children's Hospital auction. Last year, she was named a Rensselear Medalist, and she has received the University of Rochester Xerox Award for Innovation and Information Technology.

While she has not yet selected a college, she says with certainty, "I know that I want to study aerospace engineering!"

Advanced physics teacher Greg Wolfe observed of Becca, "She is an excellent advocate for the sciences. She is always engaged in the classroom and she consistently produces the most high-quality work. It is not surprising that she was honored with this award."

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