Girls you can look up to

Some strive their whole lives to be deemed a "role model," but for two local girls, the job comes easily.

The teen magazine "Discovery Girls" recently recognized Gabi Goffman, 12, of Corona del Mar, and Kristina Lai, 10, of Irvine, for their ability to radiate positive values. The magazine held a contest to find 10 great role models for girls.

"Our ideal role model is not a perfect girl, but a girl who works hard everyday to become more confident and resilient," the magazine's website reads.

What do Gabi and Kristina think it means to be a role model?

"I think it means that you have to be good at helping other people and a good example for little kids," Kristina said.

"My idea of a role model is someone that when you're struggling or going through (tough) times can help you, sort of like a best friend," Gabi responded.

The contest received more than 2,000 entries, but the two Orange County girls made it to the final 30. Although they didn't win, both were appreciative of the recognition.

The contest application consisted of fill-in answers and asking questions about the girls' dream jobs, hobbies and friendships.

Both girls didn't have trouble coming up with a myriad of unique activities to help them stand out.

Gabi, a student at the Pegasus School in Huntington Beach, enjoys doing her homework upside down. Yes, that's right — on her head.

Her father introduced her to yoga, and she's been smitten with it ever since. She even dictates poetry in the upside-down position.

"I love to write poetry, and I love to write it upside down," she said. "That's one of my favorite things to do is stand on my head and do my homework. It just makes me feel so calm and balanced."

Kristina, a fifth-grader at Bonita Canyon Elementary, is similarly a fan of the written word. She's even been published in the Los Angeles Times.

"I want to be a published author," she said. "I like to write about fairies … some people might think it's babyish, but I think it's fun because you get to use your imagination a lot."

The writer, who enjoys poetry and fantasy stories, said that although it might be in vogue to do free verse, she prefers to rhyme.

Kristina also uses her writing for good causes, volunteering at a senior center and offering to write stories about the seniors' histories. She became such good friends with man, she said, that at the time of the interview she had just returned from breakfast with him.

As it came down to the wire, Gabi found support at her school and within her family.

"Everyone would come up to me and say, 'I'm voting for you,'" Gabi said. "My friends convinced me to make these little fliers, so I handed those out."

When Gabi found out she wasn't one of the 10 winners, her 10-year-old brother consoled her.

"My brother said 'Gabi, even though you're not a winner, you'll always be a winner to me,'" she said.

Kristina preferred to keep her moment in the spotlight under wraps.

"I don't want to go to back to school and be treated like a celebrity or something," she said.

Big prize or not, the talented girls will continue to be role models in their own right.

"It makes me feel good about myself because I have two younger sisters and a younger brother," Gabi said. "It makes me feel like I'm showing them the right things to do and it makes me feel good that people think I'm a role model."

Gabi, who enjoys soccer when she's not upside down, is about to earn a black belt in taekwondo in March. Kristina will continue to write, play piano and get one step closer to that book deal.

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