PhD student, global Girl Scout leader believes Girl Guiding/Girl Scouting changes the world across countries and cultures

Stefanie Argus ’23 has been involved with the Girl Scouts of the USA since she was five years old and has continued her commitment to the organization for three decades, most recently being named chair of the Western Hemisphere Regional Committee, which manages governance and operations for 35 countries across North and South America and the Caribbean, serving nearly two million girls and young women. 

Argus is also a graduate assistant in URI’s Women’s Center for the 2022 – 2023 school year and a doctoral student in URI’s education program, hoping to one day use her combined skills to teach at the college level and empower her students with the same confidence and innovation that girl scouting experiences gave to her.

“Girl Scouts and girl guiding are braided into my identity,” she said, having worked for the organization in various capacities from volunteer to local and national assignments up to the global level. “The leadership skills I learned are relevant and helped build resilience.”

A staff position with the Girl Scouts had Argus relocating in 2016 from Nevada to Rhode Island, where she said it immediately “felt like home.” Since she had planned on pursuing her PhD once she settled in, URI became her first and only choice. Argus has worked in non-formal educational settings for over ten years and holds a bachelor’s degree in education and psychology from Mount Holyoke College, a master’s degree in adventure education from Prescott College, and is certified as a pre-K-2 educator and TESOL instructor.

In her newest role as chair of the Western Hemisphere Regional Committee, Argus will be part of an 18-member board for the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, responsible for oversight of the programs in 152 countries, serving a total of 10 million girls and young women worldwide.

On the national level with Girl Scouts of USA, Argus has supported strategic planning, fund development and coaching, developing new programs for young girls, and creating domestic and international travel opportunities for older girls. 

“I’m really honored to serve the movement in this capacity,” she said. “I am especially anxious to support additional countries to become full members. The region is specifically working with Nicaragua and Saint. Kitts and Nevis at this time.”

Argus is no stranger to the value of such programs, having participated in Girl Scouts until she was 18 years old, when she received the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout can receive, for the development of an after-school mentoring and activities program for students in grades 4-6 who wouldn’t typically have access to such opportunities.

And what about the famous Girl Scout cookies?

“Selling Girl Scout cookies is the first entrepreneurial opportunity for many Girl Scouts, who are at the helm of owning their own small businesses,” Argus said.  The money from the cookie sales stays local and helps Girl Scouts to participate in experiences including travel opportunities and Girl Scout camp.

Argus also proudly points out that three Girl Scout cookie flavors are rated among the U.S.’s favorite cookies: Thin Mints, Caramel Delights (aka Samoas) and Peanut Butter Patties (aka Tagalongs).

With all her studies and job responsibilities, Argus hopes to keep “a very organized schedule.”

“It’s not just a commitment, it is a promise to be part of writing this next chapter for our international organization,” Argus said.

With this promise, Argus will focus her doctoral research on centering the narratives of women who are working toward anti-racist activism in academic and professional work.