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Smoke Signals Student Media

The student news site of George Rogers Clark High School

Smoke Signals Student Media

The student news site of George Rogers Clark High School

Smoke Signals Student Media

Distinguished Young Women program represents acclaimed Clark County tradition

Local program set for June 1
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Clark County 2025 DYW participants: Sydney Antoniou, Meredith Boone, Caroline Harper, Olivia Brownlee, Maddie Goeing, Rileigh Reed, Maddie Vaughn, Mady Stotts, Ella Mattingly

What does it mean exactly to Be Your Best Self? For the world of the Distinguished Young Women program, the possibilities for young women everywhere are limitless.

Since 1958, the program has been held in communities all over the country with the goal of honoring young girls with scholarships to further pursue their education.

Formerly known as Junior Miss, the program was renamed Distinguished Young Women on June 26, 2012.

Since then, DYW has provided life-changing and rewarding opportunities for over 780,000 young women, as well as granting more than $118 million dollars in scholarships.

Be ambitious. Be healthy. Be studious. Be responsible. Be involved. These phrases embody the five pillars of excellence that the program lives by. Through its morals and determination to support young women across the globe, Distinguished Young Women is still the oldest national scholarship program for women across the globe.

The 2025 Distinguished Young Woman will be named at Clark County’s local program on Saturday, June 1, at 3 p.m. at the GRC Theater.

The program itself runs on three tiers at the competition level: local, state, and national. The participants are evaluated in five categories: Scholastics (20%), Interview (25%), Talent (20%), Fitness (15%), and Self-Expression (15%).

The scholastic competition happens before the program even begins. A separate set of judges score participants based on transcripts and test scores. At the local level, those competing participate in an interview by a panel of judges during the day and compete that same evening in the three remaining categories.

At the end of the night, the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st runner up are announced, along with the winner at the very end. The state program takes place over an entire week in Lexington, and the national program is held in Mobile, Alabama, each summer.

The Clark County DYW Committee is known for its immense enthusiasm and support at every level of the program.

You are always able to pinpoint the location of Clark County in the audience with their famous “Woo-Hoo!” chant. Donna Fuller, who was the chairman for 23 years and recently stepped down, began with this phrase years ago and has kept it going ever since.

Fuller has been devoted to the program for so long because of the young women she has the opportunity to meet and watch grow.

“It’s not always about winning; it’s believing in yourself to be your best,” Fuller says. “This program gives them a platform to step out of their comfort zones and shine. They become role models for younger students and believe that anything is possible if you work hard enough.”

The local program runs on passion and dedication brought by numerous members of the community. A large sum of scholarship money actually comes from donations and sponsorships brought by Clark County’s own.

Without the support of the community and volunteers, the program wouldn’t be able to provide these young ladies with sizable scholarships and once-in-a-lifetime experience.

One of the most unique aspects of Clark County DYW is the number of volunteers who were past participants. They love giving back to a program that gave them so much.

One of those volunteers is Michelle Rogers Dixon who often returns to emcee the program. Dixon won the local title in 2009 and went on to win both Kentucky’s and the National Distinguished Young Women program.

“I am grateful for programs like these that give talented, intelligent, eloquent young women a platform in which their community can recognize the incredible accomplishments they’ve already made,” says Dixon.

To many, the time spent in the DYW program is one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences you could be a part of.

“It gives me great hope for the future of our communities to see young people so willing to pursue their dreams,” adds Dixon, “and to have this platform to encourage and lift them up to do just that.”

Terry Tye, another pivotal member of the program and past participant, has not only been a part of DYW for years, but also got to watch her daughter participate.

“The amount of pride I felt watching my daughter give her all on that stage is hard to describe,” Tye says. “She gained so much confidence and connections from her participation in this program that is still paying dividends today.”

Taking over as Chairman this year, Haley Tye Ross is working hard to get the Class of 2025 prepared for their time in the program.

“While it takes a lot on the participant’s side to prepare for the program,” she says, “it also takes a lot on the committee’s side to make sure everything is ready to go and that we are able to put on the best possible program for the participants.”

This program works to give young women a new experience that they will never forget.

It’s not about winning; it’s about working to better yourself and achieve your goals. DYW runs on five pivotal pillars: Be Ambitious, Be Studious, Be Involved, Be Responsible, Be involved.

Dixon defines the true meaning of the program by stating, “Everyone will get something from the program that will help them become a better version of themselves than they were before they participated. What that ‘something’ is will depend on the person, but there is absolutely something for every high school senior girl to gain from participating in the Distinguished Young Women program.”

Ultimately, Be Distinguished.

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Olivia Brownlee
Olivia Brownlee, Multimedia Staff
Olivia, a junior at GRC, is a fanatic for some rolls and peanuts from Texas Roadhouse. Her goals this year are to maintain her 4.0 GPA and be a safe and responsible driver on her way to school. If she were to be in any movie, she would visit the last scene of Starstruck so she could meet Sterling Knight.  When she’s not at school, she’s most likely doing ballet with friends at her local studio. She thoroughly enjoys a Sunday (or any day of the week) nap. Her all-time favorite day of the week is Thursday, simply because it’s Domino's Day!

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