Courtney Miller, the Distinguished Young Woman of Cumberland Valley, was awarded the state title for 2014. The first runner-up was Kalah Vance, the Distinguished Young Woman of Tullahoma.
Cleveland Distinguished Young Woman Laura Kate Evans also won awards as part of the program. Evans won the Spirit Award, which she was chosen to receive by her peers in the program. She also won the Talent category award with her violin performance of “Czardas” by Vittorio Monti.
Miller won the Interview, Fitness and Scholastic category awards. Vance was the winner of the Self-Expression category.
Eighteen girls competed in the “Legends of Music”-themed competition, and their scores from each category were averaged to determine who would win the Tennessee title.
Distinguished Young Women is a scholarship competition previously known as Junior Miss, until 2010. Girls taking part in the state competition, which was also held in Cleveland last year, won local programs in each of their cities or counties before arriving to compete.
Katie Ward, who was the Distinguished Young Woman of Tennessee for 2013, said she still had memories of her state experience and knew the girls competing next year would have much to remember.
“While it’s a bittersweet night for me, I’m excited for the girls,” Ward said from the stage.
By the time Saturday night rolled around, all of the girls had completed most of their competition categories.
Contestants competed in the Talent, Fitness and Self-Expression categories onstage both Friday and Saturday nights. However, the scholastic portion was determined beforehand, as it was based on factors like the girls’ ACT scores and school GPAs.
The Interview portion took place on Thursday. Contestants each had a private interview with the judges. That allowed them to provide original answers in a way they would not be able to onstage, according to the judges.
The Self-Expression category did, however, require each girl to answer a question onstage.
“If you had the opportunity to support or found a charity, what would that be?”
That was the question posed to the girls who took part in Saturday’s Self-Expression category. Some mentioned things like wanting to help end human trafficking. Existing charities contestants mentioned included areas like the Chattanooga-based Jordan Thomas Foundation that provides prosthetics to children who have lost their limbs, as well as the Ronald McDonald House in Chattanooga.
Girls also showed off their Talent contributions and took part in the choreographed routine that was part of the Fitness category.
After singing performances from noncompetitors and recognition of former Distinguished Young Women and Junior Misses present, Ward prepared to put the medallion around the neck of the girl who would carry on her title.
After Miller was announced as the winner, her fellow competitors, friends and family surrounded her with hugs and words of congratulation.
As of right now, the state competition is set to take place in Cleveland again next summer.