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Wichita teen earns Girl Scouts’ most prestigious award

Maureen “Reeny” Botros says she advocates for all-girl programs in science, technology, engineering and math in hopes of closing the gender gap in STEM fields.
Maureen “Reeny” Botros says she advocates for all-girl programs in science, technology, engineering and math in hopes of closing the gender gap in STEM fields. Courtesy photo

A Wichita teen who invented a light-up fashion accessory that promotes physical activity has been named a National Young Woman of Distinction by Girl Scouts of the USA, the organization announced.

Maureen “Reeny” Botros, 17, is one of 10 young women being awarded the organization’s most prestigious honor, which comes with $15,000 in scholarships.

For her Girl Scout Gold Award project, Botros invented “Illumi-cize,” a light-up accessory designed to monitor heart rate and promote exercise. She presented the invention to President Barack Obama during the White House Science Fair in 2015.

With a grant from the National Center for Women & Information Technology, Botros hosted a series of free “Catwalk Coding” camps for girls in Wichita, teaching them electrical and coding skills so they could build their own accessories.

She recently was selected as a HerLEAD Fellow – part of a nationwide leadership and mentoring program – and plans to conduct a Catwalk Coding camp for more than 100 girls next month in Mexico City.

Botros, who will travel to Columbus, Ohio, this week to accept the national award, said she advocates for all-girl programs in science, technology, engineering and math in hopes of closing the gender gap in STEM fields.

“Too often, girls are led to believe that to pursue STEM requires that they adapt to the male-dominated field,” she said in a news release from Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland. “The message of Catwalk Coding … is that STEM is already compatible with their interests.”

Botros is a homeschooled high school senior who also is enrolled in coursework at Friends University.

Suzanne Perez Tobias: 316-268-6567, @suzannetobias

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