GCC Student Describes Journey of Becoming Female Eagle Rank Recipient

In this photo, Eagle Scout honors are presented.
In this photo, Eagle Scout honors are presented.

Arpi Sarian, a student at GCC, was part of an inaugural class of female Eagles and the third female in her chapter to earn the prestigious rank. Sarian, 19, is a scout in the Homenetmen Glendale Ararat Scouting chapter. She is the 37th Eagle from her scouting chapter. 

“When I was younger, I was very shy and didn’t get along with many people because I didn’t like socializing with others,” Sarian said in an interview. She added that Scouting helped her confidence grow considerably. “Scouting gave me opportunities to achieve things that not many people my age are able to achieve, such as the different Homenetmen ranks and Eagle rank.” She further elaborated: “My self-confidence was also fueled by the fact that I had participated in this extracurricular for a very long time- not many people stick with activities they have done since they were younger. Alongside my confidence, my work ethic has become stronger.” 

There are now six female Eagle scouts from the Ararat chapter, and they recently had their Court of Honor on Feb. 5, officially making them the inaugural class of female Eagle scouts. Sarian is currently a freshman at Glendale Community College, majoring in molecular biology. In addition to her studies and participation in scouting, she works for the Parks and Recreation department’s after school program for kids in Burbank.

Homenetmen, also referred to as the “Armenian General Athletic Union and Scouts,” is an organization comprised of scouting and athletics under a single roof for all Armenian youth. Homenetmen is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1918, dedicated to providing the Armenian-American youth with a strong foundation in physical, social, and morale. It also aids the Armenian youth in better understanding and appreciating their culture and history as well.

The Eagle rank is the highest rank to be earned by a scout which Sarian has earned. There are six ranks before the Eagle one and to earn each one, one must complete a board of review where a panel of judges interview you about your progress. In addition, every Eagle Scout must complete 21 merit badges and lead a service project benefiting the community. A merit badge is a topic of interest that scouts must immerse themselves in; there are 13 mandatory merit badges that every Eagle must earn and eight elective ones, so they can choose eight badges to explore their interests. 

GCC student and Eagle Scout Arpi Sarian poses for an official photo.
GCC student and Eagle Scout Arpi Sarian poses for an official photo. (Courtesy of Arpi Sarian)

Up until 2019, it has only been awarded to male recipients. A recipient must earn the rank by age  18. Sarian began when she was sixteen. “I turned 16 before the COVID-19 pandemic happened and because of that, I did most of my rank requirements from home. I had to work twice as hard in order to finish my rank on time,” Sarian recalled. Sarian explained that one can only earn the rank up until age 18. She started late due to girls being given the opportunity only recently. “I received an extension of time to finish my project and complete my final board of review,” she said. “I earned my rank in June 2022.” 

She has been involved in scouting for 11 years. She began as a cub scout at the age of eight. Sarian explained her journey  in pursuit of the Eagle Rank at the age of 16. “A scout must complete the rank before turning 18 years old,” she said. Upon her recognition, she set her sights on earning more leadership roles. Currently, she has come full circle by becoming the leader of their youngest Cub Scout group for girls aged 6-8 years of age. One of her responsibilities in this role includes planning activities for the cub scouts that take place every Sunday.

Sarian was asked if joining scouting was her or her parents’ decision. “My background in scouting started with my parents,” she acknowledged. “They had both been scouts when they were younger, and decided to put me in scouts as well. When you join at a young age, the activities mainly consist of arts and crafts, sports, and educational presentations. These activities gave me the chance to find new friends and in turn, my decision to stick with scouting throughout my middle school, high school, and college years is because of the friends I made when I was younger,” Sarian replied.

Her parents were asked to share their thoughts about Arpi’s journey with scouting. “One of the reasons we chose to put her in scouting was for her to have another circle of people to interact with and learn from besides her classmates at school,” her parents answered. “Most of the kids she hung out with at school were her age, so there was a limited amount of things that she could learn from them but when she went to scouting, she had the opportunity to learn from older kids and see them as her role models while developing her leadership, communication, and collaborative skills.” They continued: “We as parents were heavily involved with the scouting chapter, helping out wherever needed with our kids and the scouting community. With Arpi finding another group of friends, we also found another circle of friends too with her friends’ parents.” 

Sarian’s parents added that they saw their daughter grow as a leader. “During the COVID pandemic, she leaned heavily on those skills and she was a huge help guiding and taking care of her younger brother with school, activities, and homework while working on her Eagle Scouts requirements,” her parents said. 

Sarian discussed the responsibilities each rank member must complete in order to reach the next level, she was also asked if kids at different ages have different responsibilities, and how one can get ahead as a scout. “Scouts are chosen by their scoutmaster, the leader of their troop, if they are eligible to move up and acquire certain positions within the chapter,” she said. “The decision is mainly based on experience, attendance, participation, age, and numerous other factors. There aren’t steps that a scout necessarily has to take, but they have to continue being an active scout and participating in scouting in different ways like earning different ranks, going to camps, helping out when needed, and achieving different ranks.” 

She continued: “When a scout turns 11, they are able to join the older groups and from there, they have the option of earning different ranks. Our ranks are different from the BSA ranks. Scouts have five ranks that they can earn within Homenetmen and a scout is not required to earn them, but the more ranks a scout earns helps them become more eligible to move up our leadership ranks. The most commonly earned ranks are the third, second, and first ranks with the remaining two ranks being for older scouts.” She recalled: “I have earned up to the firstrank. When studying for the ranks, each scout learns about knots, pioneering, Armenian and American history, nature, religion, and other important topics. Once they earn this rank, they receive a patch to wear on their uniform – there is one for each patch. The BSA ranks, which consist of the Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and Eagle ranks are all optional ranks as well, but if a scout earns their Eagle scout, they are much more eligible to move higher up in the leadership ranks.” 

Sarian described how her time scouting has shaped her character. She indicated that once she became a leader she began helping her troop in several ways. From working to create bi weekly schedules, to executing scheduled items. She noted that her favorite has to be dedicating the month of April to climate change. She further recalls planning an event with their troop addressing the importance of global warming, and she had their troop brainstorm ways to help the environment. In the future, Sarian plans on using her scouting experience as a stepping stone. She intends on using the skills that scouting has taught her in order to achieve as much as she can and hopes to become a biomedical scientist. “Although the road to achieving this is difficult, I know that scouting has given me the patience to work hard and be persistent with my academics.” She continued, “I also hope to approach every situation in life with the same feeling of responsibility that scouting has allowed me to work on.” 

Alina Martin can be reached at [email protected].