Emily Thornton started as a Girl Scout when she was 5. Now, 13 years later, the Ahwatukee Foothills resident was honored for representing a key aspect of the organization - leadership.
Thornton won the Leadership Award at the 2011 Girl Scouts Women and Young Women of Distinction: World Awards on Dec. 3 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa in Phoenix.
"Girl Scouts is an amazing organization because it gives girls the opportunity to go out and learn to be themselves," Thornton, 18, said. "They teach good character traits and how to lead. It has been an amazing part of my life and has made me who I am today."
Because she is devoted to many other after-school activities, Thornton's time involved with Girl Scouts has diminished slightly, but her most recent work sent her to act as a camp counselor for the organization.
"It was an amazing experience because I got to see how Girl Scouts affected the younger girls," she said. "It was reliving my roots and knowing that they are learning to take charge of their lives, which will stay with them for a long time."
Thornton is also in the National Honors Society and plays on the Desert Vista girls varsity basketball team. But her real passion, she said, is another sport.
"Karate is my true passion in life," she said.
Thornton has a black belt, and in 2009, she was invited to go to the world championships in Japan as a team captain. She took a draw in the fight with her opponent.
"Karate is not just about competing and doing the best you can, it's about training your mind and seeing how far your mind can go," she said. "I really like the mental side of karate. You have to have your wits about you when you are fighting, and you learn about your body."
To meet her volunteer hours for National Honors Society, Thornton teaches karate for two hours each week at the dojo where she trains - Mountainside Martial Arts.
She was accepted into Northern Arizona University and will be attending in the fall. She plans to study exercise science and Spanish.
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