Mayor Emeritus Tom Rowland on Sunday welcomed the participants in this year’s Distinguished Young Women of Tennessee Scholarship, Leadership and Talent competition, which is being held for the 12th …
Mayor Emeritus Tom Rowland on Sunday welcomed the participants in this year’s Distinguished Young Women of Tennessee Scholarship, Leadership and Talent competition, which is being held for the 12th year in Cleveland.
The welcoming ceremony was held at Lee University's Dixon Center.
“Welcome to Cleveland and to one of the most beautiful campuses in Tennessee,” Rowland said. “We are proud of Cleveland and proud of the people who will make you feel welcome.”
The event is a national scholarship program through which young women can compete to win scholarships, as well as learn life skills. The competition, which includes young women who are either juniors or seniors in high school, consists of judging standards based on scholastics, interviews, talent, fitness and self-expression.
During Sunday's ceremony, the participants were introduced to their host families.
Prior to introducing Rowland, Charles Fant, a member of the DYW Board of Directors, said he and his wife, Traci Fant, have been involved in the program for over a decade.
"What this program does for young ladies is a tremendous thing, and I am so excited to be a part of it," Fant said.
Fant, a football coach, became involved with the program when his wife was program director.
"I was this football coach and always around boys," Fant said. "When it came to those young men, it was always about trying to help them go from being boys to becoming fantastic young men. What I see what this program does for these young ladies is similar to what was happening with my young men."
The event is organized by state program director Katie Arnold. She succeeded Traci Fant, who is a committee member.
Lee University Vice President for Community Relations Dr. Jerome Hammond also welcomed the participants, stating that the university was proud to host the event.
“We are so pleased to have you here with us for this program,” Hammond said. “We are honored to be associated with this wonderful program. You embody everything we value here at Lee University: excellence, hard work, self-improvement, service to others.”
Hammond said the skills and experiences the participants will gain from the program will benefit them the remainder of their lives.
“What you are doing is practicing for life, so when you are in that position of authority and leadership, you will change the world,” Hammond said.
2019 DYW of Tennessee winner, Madison Dochte, also welcomed the participants and said she understood what they were experiencing.
“One year ago today, I was sitting where you are and feeling what you are feeling,” Dochte said. “I was excited and nervous."
Dochte said the participants will be in excellent hands with their host families.
“They will have the best week ever,” she said.
Former participant Melissa Barnette said it was a privilege to work with the young women. She said she has known the host families for many years.
“My mom is a host family,” Barnette said. “We have lots of loving homes for you.”
The participants for this year are:
Kimberly Maynard, Chattanooga; Kira Stander, Cleveland; Angel Kreger, Collegedale; Raven Hellena Guilford, Tullahoma; Mackayla Wall, Chattanooga; Natalie Stovall, Huntland; Katelyn Lee, Ooltewah; Grace Shockley, Greenback; Madison Munn, Jasper; Presley Webb, Athens; Kennedy Brown, Memphis; Kendall Davis, Mufreesboro; Sophia Cardia, Ooltewah; Madelyn Smith, Dayton; Alexia Woodard, Chattanooga; Natalie Ault, Memphis; Annabelle Sapp, Soddy Daisy; Olivia Anderson, Tullahoma; and Mary Humphrey, McMinnville.
The competitive event, formerly known as Tennessee Junior Miss, was founded in 1958, and is one of the largest scholarship organizations in the United States, awarding more than $1.5 billion in scholarship funds each year.
According to DYW, "Participants will compete for cash and college-granted scholarships, and the opportunity to represent the state as the Distinguished Young Woman of Tennessee for 2020."
The young women will be participating in events all week, culminating with the final competition, which will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 20 at Dixon Center.
The program this week includes:
• Monday, July 15: Morning and afternoon rehearsals at Arnold Memorial Elementary; a Life Skills workshop featuring Dr. William Seymour, president of Cleveland State Community College; and a pool party for the contestants.
• Tuesday, July 16: Morning and afternoon rehearsals at Arnold Memorial Elementary; an appearance at the Cleveland Rotary Club luncheon; and a volunteer and service activity at Garden Plaza.
• Wednesday, July 17: Morning rehearsal at Lee University’s Dixon Center; and a Life Skills Workshop featuring Latricia Milburn, television anchor for NewsChannel 9 and Tennessee Junior Miss 2000.
• Thursday, July 18: Interviews and talent tech/rehearsals at Dixon Center during the morning and afternoon; and a "Let’s Celebrate With Ice Cream" event at Baskin Robbins.
• Friday, July 19: Yoga with Lisa Hoffer at Dixon Center; morning rehearsals and an afternoon dress rehearsal for Friday night's preliminaries; and the Preliminary program at Dixon Center.
• Saturday, July 20: Dress rehearsal for the finals at Dixon Center; and the Finals Competition that night at the Dixon Center.
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