Galileans believe they can change the world in big and small ways. And when their passions are combined with an opportunity to give back to their community, it’s pretty exciting to see where that changemaking spirit takes them. For Ruby Trost-Goldhammer, a 14-year- old Galileo alumna, it took her all the way to founding Take the Reins, a program that grants horseback riding camp scholarships to underserved kids. An idea that originally started as Ruby’s mitzvah project (a project aimed at giving back to the community as part of bat mitzvah preparations), Take the Reins has just completed its second summer and has awarded seven scholarships across two camps.
Ruby sees a connection between her current roles as the founder of Take the Reins and a staffer at Kelly Maddox Training (one of the horseback riding camps her scholarship students attend), and her experiences as a camper at Galileo. “The instructors at Galileo Summer Quest shared their passions with me, and that made a huge impact,” she said. That impact is apparent in both the new passions GSQ sparked in Ruby—like the love of photography she picked up in her Digital Photography major—and her drive to share her own longtime love of horseback riding with other kids.
“Horseback riding is really gratifying for me personally, and it’s really cool to watch [the Take the Reins scholarship recipients] gain confidence as they ride,” Ruby said. Last summer, one camper in particular made an impression. At only seven years old, she was their youngest scholarship student, and at first, she was intimidated by the sheer size of the horses. “I introduced her to one of the smaller horses,” Ruby explained, “and had her touch the horse’s soft nose so she could get familiar with it. By the end of the week, she was trotting on a really big horse. She was able to show her mom and had a huge smile on her face.” That experience, Ruby explained, “connected me back to the admiration I had for the staffers at Galileo Summer Quest. They influenced me to want to be as patient and inspiring with this camper as they had been to me.”
Beyond what she learned through her relationships with Galileo staffers, Ruby has also given her Galileo-taught innovation skills (specifically her Innovator’s Mindset) a workout managing Take the Reins. She credits her collaborative talents with helping her build a host of successful partnerships: with the graphic designer who designed her logo, the family friend who helped organize a spin class fundraiser, and the two local barns—Kenilworth Stables and Kelly Maddox Training—that provide her with scholarship spots at their camps.
Ruby has also needed plenty of determination to realize her vision, “especially because I’m so young,” she explained. “Sometimes I feel misunderstood and not taken seriously.” But as she’s registered her business, forged professional partnerships, opened a bank account, tested and redesigned the way she identifies potential scholarship candidates and many, many more challenging milestones, she has persevered. “I think of myself as a changemaker,” Ruby told us, “and I look up to others who are making a difference. I’ve always wanted to make a change in someone’s life—that means something to me.”
Ruby is already planning for Take the Reins’ third summer, where she will create a special session of summer camp at Kelly Maddox Training for her scholarship recipients that focuses on growing self-confidence, empathy-building and creating a deeper connection with the horses. To learn more about Ruby’s changemaking work or to make a donation to Take the Reins, visit www.takethereinsscholarship.org .