Out of the 24 young women who are taking part in the festivities, one in particular is taking it all in and in certain cases offering the other 23 advice.
This time last year Tullahoma’s Kayte Brock was one of the contestants visiting Cleveland doing her best to win the state title.
This year Brock sits on the sidelines during most of the rehearsal, not only as the state champion but also as the national title holder.
“It’s so strange to be in this position to watch them go through the process that I went through a year ago,” Brock said. “It’s been a fast year. It doesn’t feel like its been an entire year since I was right there.”
Brock won her national title in late June at the competition in Moblie, Ala. Some of the state competitions happen during the winter months and give the girls a few months to prepare.
However, Tennessee’s happens earlier in the year so the girls can take their time and settle into their state DYW role before going to nationals.
“I really enjoyed the gap. ... It allowed me a low-key first part of the year, so I would go do speaking engagements and community service, but I wasn’t full on preparing for nationals yet. So, I got some time to rest,” Brock explained.
Brock said winning the national championship was a little unreal and that her nerves were worse during the state competition because she was less experienced at state and not expecting to win.
Now, she is enjoying some time off before her responsibilities and engagements as the Distinguished Young Woman fully kick in.
Brock got started in her local DYW program in the summer of her junior year of high school. She was encouraged by her community’s chairpeople.
She had nothing but thanks to offer those who helped get her involved in the program and supported her through the entire experience. She stated if she thanked everyone who helped her it wouldn’t fit on one page.
Brock offered some advice to the young women competing in this year’s event, and explained the girls will develop their interpersonal skills, confidence and the ability to know themselves better.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. They are putting themselves in a position outside their comfort zone. You come and you meet 23 girls that you have never talked to or [even] seen, and they are all going to become best friends,” Brock explained.
She went on to say making new connections and just competing in DYW sets competitors apart and provides them with valuable tools that can help them achieve greater goals later in life.
“I just really want this program to be the focus of attention. I want girls to know how amazing this program is. I want people to know about it and know that it is not a pageant. They don’t judge you on physical appearance at all. They care about the substance of the girl,” she stated.