Monday, August 13, 2012

Alumnae Spotlight: Judy Cullinan

By: Kaleena Watts

When Judy Cullinan encourages young Girl Scouts to “Stick with Girl Scouts, and take out everything you can,” she speaks proudly from sheer experience. From a novice Girl Scout Brownie in the second grade, to a veteran Girl Scout Senior and college freshman, Judy enjoyed many years of dedicated service and memorable experiences as a Girl Scout.

Judy Cullinan, currently a service unit manager and leader of her daughter’s troop for the 10th year, credits many of her character strengths, valuable skills and personal interest to her years as a Girl Scout. With leadership, survival and service topping the list of qualities she believes Girl Scouts taught her, Judy holds one camping experience in particular as strong reinforcement of those merits. In 1979, Judy and her troop, Troop 629 of New York’s Suffolk County Girl Scout Council, enjoyed 23 days of camping, traveling to the then National Center West in Wyoming. “We traveled cross country on a Trailways bus, [and] camped out every night,” Judy recalls. In addition to the traditional highlights of camping, the girls enjoyed tours of Canada, the General Motors plant in Flint, Mich., a logging museum on an Indian reservation, and both Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore National Parks.

Girl Scout getaways such as these have traditionally been known to bond young girls for a lifetime. By the same token, Judy and many of her former troop members now stay connected. Judy finds irony in not only their reconnection, but also the similar paths they have chosen. “I have reconnected with a whole bunch of girls on Facebook, and of course we’re all Girl Scout leaders,” Judy shares.

Judy went on to pick up many additional skills that would prove useful throughout life. Through Girl Scouts, Judy learned how to sail boats, and to race them competitively. Judy became highly skilled at sailing and went on to join and instruct the sailing team at Tulane University, her alma mater.

Similarly, CPR procedures were another skill Judy picked up through Girl Scouts. As a teen, Judy became certified by the Red Cross to perform and instruct CPR techniques as a Girl Scout. “I taught CPR to Girl Scouts, [and] taught classes for the elderly,” Judy shares of this rewarding experience. Interestingly, Girl Scouts sparked other personal interests in Judy, such as knitting, a hobby introduced to her through crochet and needle work projects from her Girl Scout Brownie days.

These days Judy works hard to keep her own troop enthusiastic about their commitment to Girl Scouts. With so many activities for youth these days, she knows how important it is to keep her troop interested in Girl Scouts. “The girls are older now, so I let them make more decisions about the things they want to do, I just guide them,” Judy says of her leadership style. Just last year, Judy’s troop went on a cruise to Alaska, a trip she allowed the girls to decide on together. Judy’s many years of dedication and commitment alone are inspiring enough to encourage sticking with, joining or even volunteering for Girl Scouts.