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From Girl Scouts to Success

Organization dear to ABC Action News team

The clock strikes 3 a.m. and the ladies of the ABC Action News morning team are already at work. These women share more than an early morning schedule and a penchant for power suits, though. It’s the only news anchor team in the Tampa Bay area where all the women at the anchor desk are former Girl Scouts – Anchor Deiah Riley, Meteorologist Stephanie Roberts, Traffic Reporter Meredith Censullo and Multimedia Journalist Ashley Glass.

Ask any one of them what Girl Scouting taught them as children and you’ll hear the most delightful stories of friendship, fun and yes, fudge-covered thin mints. Roberts started scouting in the first grade in her hometown of Wheaton, Ill., outside Chicago. “Through Girl Scouts I certainly got to hone my competitive nature.” she says. “I loved completing badges so I could have as full a sash as possible. One summer I worked my way through practically the entire junior badge book and started the new year by presenting my troop leader with all my completed work so she could order me all the badges. I filled up an entire sash over a two-year period and had started on a second one.

“I also enjoyed the cookie sales competition. Hitting the 100 box mark was very important to me!” says Roberts. “In the days before e-mail communication that was a lot of walking and doorbell ringing! One of my favorite memories was my mom being ‘cookie mom’ and our entire living room stacked full of cookie cases. Our dog was in heaven smelling all the boxes.

Riley recalls her days as a Brownie and later as a Girl Scout in Milton. “I can remember being so excited putting on my uniform. It was a confidence-builder belonging to such an elite group of girls,” she says.

Glass started in Girl Scouts as a Brownie and admits “I loved selling and eating all the cookies. My mother was a troop leader much of the time I was a Brownie and a Girl Scout – such a neat bonding experience!”

Censullo says Girl Scouting helped train her for life on the morning shift in news! “I went to the Girl Scout’s sleep-away camp in Iowa when I was 10-11 years old. I didn’t sleep the entire time I was there because I was afraid a spider would crawl on me,” she laughs. “I guess I learned to deal with a lack of sleep at a very early age thanks to Girl Scouts.”

The morning news team alone is comprised of more than half a dozen former Girl Scouts. Of all the employee stories we heard, News Content Coordinator Judy Dolan had the most unique story. “I was in the Hungarian-American Girl Scouts in Pennsylvania in 1961. I was 10,” she began.

“My experience in scouting was different than all American Girl Scouts. We were very aware that in Hungary the kids weren’t allowed to be scouts. It was forbidden. Back then Hungary was still under Communist rule. We were aware of how lucky we were to be in a country where we could. Before the war, my father had been a scout leader in Hungary and told us all the funny things that happened to him as a Scout Master. I could tell, even as a little girl, that it meant so much to him. It was important for me to have scouting stories of my own to tell my kids and it was one of the main reasons I became a Troop Leader when I grew up.”

“I definitely had experiences through Girl Scouts that I would not have had otherwise,” says Roberts. “All of my childhood camping was with my Girl Scout troop. Mom usually, dutifully went along as a helper. At the time, I probably found it more annoying than neat, but now as a mom myself, I think it is really great that she was willing to participate in all of those experiences with me. My first ski trip was also with Girl Scouts. And it encouraged me to join a ski club in middle school and then continue skiing well into my adult life.”

The mother of two continued the tradition when daughter Reagan started the first grade.

On March 22, Roberts will represent the team at the annual Women of Distinction Awards hosted by the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida, It’s a fitting honor for a woman still living by the Girl Scout code. She will recognize local recipients of the prestigious Gold Award, the highest achievement in the Girl Scouts. Twenty-six young ladies earned the prestigious award in 2010, providing nearly 1,700 hours of community service in pursuit of their Gold Award projects.

“I think Girl Scouting empowers girls to understand the many options that are available to women today”, says Roberts with her trademark smile. “It helps them realize that anything is possible!”

Lissette Campos is the director of community affairs for WFTS TV ABC Action News and a Girl Scout troop leader for her daughter’s Daisy troop in Tampa.

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