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Crenshaw looks for new Distinguished Woman

Seven girls willl compete to become the new Distinguished Young Woman. Participants are: Back Row: Avery Carpenter, Emily Sims, Mary Kendall Motes. Front Row: Caitlin Stephens and Elizabeth Ruckel. Not Pictured: Kaitlyn Castle and Cameron Catrett. Submitted Photo

By: Shayla Terry

The participants have practiced, and the stage is set to award Crenshaw County’s Distinguished Young Woman of 2017 on Saturday.

This year, the competition celebrates its 42nd year in existence.

Previously the Junior Miss Pageant, the program switched to DYW in 2012.

“It’s a scholarship program directed towards upcoming seniors,” DYW chairman Mallory Carpenter said. “The name changed but everything else is the same.”

The DYW program will have a little sister component. Little sisters are Back Row: Shelby Carpenter, Olivia Jones, Preslee Pittman, and Natalie Kennedy. Front Row: Brieahna Reaves, Hannah Fisher, Hannah Lowe, Natalee Register, and Madison McDougald Not pictured: MaKayla Furr Submitted Photo

Founded in 1958 in Mobile, Alabama, Distinguished Young Women is the largest and oldest national scholarship program for high school girls.

During its 59 years of operation, the program has provided life-changing experiences for more than 745,000 young women. Last year, Distinguished Young Women provided more than $1.1 billion in cash and college scholarship opportunities to program participants at the local, state and national level. Previously known as America’s Junior Miss, the program announced its new name in June 2010.

The mission of Distinguished Young Women is to positively impact the lives of young women by providing a transformative experience that promotes and rewards scholarship, leadership and talent. National sponsors include Mobile County, City of Mobile, Wintzell’s Oyster House, Alabama Power Foundation, Master Boat Builders, Barbara

Barrington Jones Family Foundation, Encore Rehabilitation, Regions Financial Corporation, Alabama Media Group, the State of Alabama Tourism Department and Alabama RC&D Council.

“I was the only person from my school going into the program so I was a bit worried about it,” said Railey Ayers, Crenshaw County’s 2016 Distinguished Young Woman. “It turned out to be one of the best weeks of my life. I met a lot of people that I would never have met otherwise. I was there with girls going to Yale and Harvard and it was just a really cool feeling to be around such great company for an entire week.

“This scholarship will obviously ease the financial burden going into college. A lot of the girls who participate are doing it for scholarship purposes; they’re not doing it because they like to compete in pageants. Half of your score is already done before you even get on stage. The interview portion is worth 25 and so is the scholastic. That’s not seen on stage and I think that really sets a part from just a general pageant. I’m super thankful for the experience and I hope the next person I get to pass it to has as good a time with it as did and learns just as much, if not more than I did.”

The program will be held at Crenshaw Christian Academy’s Gymnasium at 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 17. Admission is $6.