Scout, scholar, volunteer

With “The Jersey Shore,” the trials and tribulations of Lindsay Lohan and the rest of scantily clad, young Hollywood always under the spotlight and in our faces, it’s tough for girls to find good role models in today’s world. But one girl continues to exemplify all of the qualities that young women should strive to obtain.

Carolina Torres, 16, has been a Girl Scout for nine years and during that time has been involved in bettering her community with extra-curricular activities and charity work, all while maintaining an astounding average in the Pre-med Institute at Hillcrest High School.

She volunteers at Queens Hospital Center (QHC), where she helps to translate, does clerical work and assists with events including the Breast Cancer Walk and gift-giving drives on Christmas Day. She is also part of the Queens Las Americas Lions Club, where she organizes and promotes food, toy and blood drives.

As part of her duties with the Girl Scouts in Troop 4253, Torres cleans parks, plants trees, sings Christmas carols and teaches English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for adults, the latter earning her a Silver Award from the Girl Scouts. Helping her community comes naturally to Torres as another priority on her ever-expanding list of duties.

“Right now, my priorities are school and helping my community,” said the high school senior, who came to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic with her mother Ramona at two months old. “[Teaching ESL classes for adults] was the first project I ever did on my own and I felt really happy and accomplished.”

Knowing how much she values helping her community, it should be no surprise that Torres is being honored as this year’s Future Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts Council of Greater New York. She is one of five awardees helping the Girl Scouts carry on the tradition of upstanding young woman.

The 18th Annual Women of Distinction Breakfast will be hosted by Deborah Norville, two-time Emmy Award-winning anchor of “Inside Edition.” The event will take place at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, November 3 at the Hilton New York Hotel.

With the Woman of Distinction award, Torres will receive a $2,000 scholarship towards her college education. This comes after she earned the highest ranking award in Girl Scouting in June 2010, the Girl Scout Gold Award. The Gold Award is achieved by just 5.4 percent of Girl Scouts nationwide and Torres won it for her project, “Take Control Today, Be Healthier Tomorrow.”

In the project, Torres organized a health fair where she gave out free information on common health issues including cholesterol management, domestic violence, cancer and the importance of not smoking. She was able enlist experienced nurses who took blood pressure, tested body-mass index and did glucose screenings.

She also traveled to her home country to deliver large boxes of clothes, toys and non-perishable foods that she had collected, and delivered them to an orphanage for physically and mentally challenged children.

“Their reactions and smiles was my biggest reward,” said Torres, who also said she counts it as her “proudest moment.”

Besides the rewards that she gets from volunteering, Torres’s inspiration comes from her mom and the great amount of support she receives from the rest of her tight-knit family.

“My mom is a nurse and she inspires me to help others,” she said. “She even helps me out in some of the events I participate in.”

With the Woman of Distinction award, Torres joins other outstanding female leaders who have shown devotion to the less fortunate and who have sacrificed the biggest commodity of all – time.

“The biggest challenge is finding time to do everything I want to do as a student and as a volunteer,” she said. “Sometimes it’s really hard to accomplish something perfectly because even though I enjoy it, I have lots of things going on at once.”

– With additional reporting by Rosmaliz Valdes


More from Around New York