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Former rocket scientist turned Girl Scouts CEO wants to teach girls to code

Former rocket scientist turned Girl Scouts CEO wants to teach girls to code

Sylvia Acevedo, interim CEO of Girl Scouts, launched her first rocket into the clear skies of New Mexico when she was just a child to earn her science badge in Girl Scouts.

That experience triggered a lifelong passion for science, and led her to earn an MBA in engineering from Stanford and become a rocket scientist. She is also the White House commissioner on the presidential initiative for Hispanic educational excellence.

In an interview with "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer, she said she aims for Girl Scouts to not only instill the mission of leadership into girls, but to become more technology-focused and teach how to code.

"It is part of our culture to do technology, to learn how to code, to have hands on projects — whether it's creating fashionable wearables, or creating robots," Acevedo said.

From a business perspective, many associate Girl Scouts with its $800 million cookie business. But Acevedo said there are more than just cookies cooking behind the scenes at Girl Scouts. She recently visited a Girl Scout troop of girls making robots, creating lava volcanoes and building mechanical prosthetic arms.

So many of the women entrepreneurs in America today, they were Girl Scouts as well.
Sylvia Acevedo
Interim CEO of Girl Scouts
Sylvia Acevedo, Interim CEO of Girl Scouts
Abigail Stevenson | CNBC

Girl Scouts has 2.7 million members and began in 1912 when founder Juliette Gordon "Daisy" Low organized her first troop in Savannah, Georgia. Every year for over 100 years, Girl Scouts has been committed to helping girls discover their strengths and empower them with the courage, confidence and character to be leaders in their communities.

After obtaining her master's degree in engineering, Acevedo found that there were so few women working in the field of engineering, that there was no bathroom for women at her first job. Years later, she became president and CEO of CommuniCard, LLC, a company aiming to use technology to harness market trends. She is also a national advocate for STEM education.

Acevedo grew up near Las Cruces, New Mexico. Her mother practiced English with troop leaders, who ultimately helped her pass her U.S. citizenship test. According to Acevedo, Girl Scouts changed her destiny.

"So many of the women entrepreneurs in America today, they were Girl Scouts as well," Acevedo said.

More than 59 million women have participated in Girl Scouts, and almost every female that has gone to space was a Girl Scout member. Famous alumnae include Taylor Swift, Gwyneth Paltrow, Hillary Clinton, 15 of the 20 women in the U.S. Senate and five of the six female U.S. governors.

Girl Scouts recently made the decision to embrace the digital movement and move some cookie sales online. This gives the girls an opportunity to create a business plan, market it, figure out how many units to sell and meet objectives.

"That's an entire process that we know not as just selling cookies, but it's giving that girl leadership skills and business skills along the way," Acevedo said.

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