Sarah Johnson preparing for state DYW


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Sarah Johnson, 2022 Distinguished Young Woman of Clark County

The city of Winchester is dark and quiet. All the businesses and shops are completely dark inside.

While most kids are completing their homework, playing video games, or watching television, Sarah Johnson is at her dance studio working hard to prepare for the state Distinguished Young Women program.

“If your dream doesn’t scare you, it’s too small.”

Sarah Johnson, the winner of the 2022 Clark County Distinguished Young Women program, says this quote inspires her.

Sarah is now preparing to represent Clark County in the state DYW program, which will be held in Lexington in early January.

“I am so excited for the opportunity to go to the state program,” says Sarah. “I am looking forward to getting to meet all the other participants and staying with a host family the week of the program. Getting prepared can be stressful, but it’s more enjoyable than difficult.”

Sarah’s chance to stay with a host family during the three-day event is something the girls who participated in last year’s program did not get to experience due to Covid-19.

After graduation from GRC, Sarah plans to attend UK. She hopes to major in neuroscience pre-med, go to med school, and become a doctor.

Sarah’s journey to becoming DYW of Clark County happened before the first day of her senior year.

In early August, 12 rising seniors, 11 of them GRC students, participated in the 2022 Distinguished Young Woman program of Clark County.

Distinguished Young Women, previously known as “Junior Miss,” is a national scholarship program where high school girls learn new skills and are encouraged to go out of their comfort zone by participating in challenging activities.

“I had never spoken in front of a large audience and I think it really boosted my public speaking abilities,” says Sarah. “Overall, I feel like I learned the importance of being confident in my own abilities.”

Sarah said her favorite part of participating in the program was the rehearsals, which took place the week before the actual program, even though she was exhausted by the end of it all.

“I enjoyed all the laughs and the fun moments we all shared,” she said. “I appreciated how positive the girls were to each other.”

Sarah won a preliminary award in every category – fitness, self expression, talent and interview – along with winning overall scholastic.

“That day is still blurry,” she recalls. “I think that there’s still a little bit of shock, but overall I’m just so happy about it. I still can’t really believe it.”

The first runner up was Ella Cooper, the second runner up was Sarah James, the third runner up was Natalie Shoemaker, and the fourth runner up was Sofia Watts.

“If you’re on the fence about participating in DYW, do it,” Sarah says. “Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone.”

Sarah says after watching DYW programs for years, she was excited to finally participate herself.

“Although it was challenging and scary,” Sarah says, “I gained so much from the experience and can’t wait for the next step.”