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The Story of Scouting

September 7, 2018

Growing up in Las Cruces, N.M., a 13-year-old Sylvia Acevedo was embarrassed that her family’s car frequently broke down, often leaving them stranded. So, she enrolled in a mechanic’s class so she could fix it herself.

That’s the kind of eighth-grade gumption Acevedo, now CEO of Girls Scouts of the USA, will use to inspire young Houstonians when she speaks Sept. 16 at Inprint’s Cool Brains! event, which brings authors to town to engage with readers ages 8 through 12.

Acevedo is on a national tour for her new memoir “Path to the Stars: My Journey From Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist,” which chronicles how she credits Scouting — and its patch-earning system — for helping her set goals that eventually earned her a master’s degree from Stanford University in Systems Engineering and, later, a job in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Both girls and boys will find Acevedo’s success story empowering, said Marilyn Jones, associate director of Inprint, which has hosted the series for 12 years as a way of connecting young readers with notable authors.

The series engages children at an age where they’re beginning to read for pleasure, choosing books and series that interest them, Jones said. The audience is mature enough to understand the amount of work authors put into their books, so the chance to meet one in person can help foster their love of reading at a crucial age.

“When the authors open up to questions, it’s really exciting to see how many hands go up,” she said.

Perhaps at this month’s event the young audience will inquire about Acevedo’s roles at IBM, Apple and Dell or about her position on a White House commission that focuses on education. Maybe they’ll learn that she’s met President Barack Obama, who originally appointed her.

Inprint will have 100 free hardcover copies of the book to give to families at the event, to “expose her story to as many of the kids as we can.”

Books will also be available for purchase, and Acevedo will sign copies after she speaks.

Jones said she hopes the audience will be inspired to read about Acevedo’s “go-to spirit of thinking outside of the box,” adding that the memoir explains how STEM was not a traditional career path for girls Acevedo’s age and details the challenges she faced as a result.

“It’s just an inspiring path (she took). We hope her story will be a role model,” Jones said, adding that several local Girl Scouts troops are attending the event together.

Bus scholarships are available to groups from schools and organizations who attend Acevedo’s reading or who choose to go to the next Cool Brains! event, which takes place Nov. 4 and features Jason Reynolds, author of the best-selling “Track” series about student athletes.

Jones expects Reynolds will draw a large crowd.

To this age group, she said, he’s a “rock star.”

Allison Bagley is a writer in Houston.

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