The 2020 Distinguished Young Woman of Tennessee continued to be excited, and surprised, Sunday morning during a stop at the Cracker Barrel restaurant, prior to her trip home to McMinnville."I never …
The 2020 Distinguished Young Woman of Tennessee continued to be excited, and surprised, Sunday morning during a stop at the Cracker Barrel restaurant, prior to her trip home to McMinnville.
"I never thought I'd win," she said during a short interview to talk about her accomplishment.
Mary Humphrey, the Warren County DYW and a Warren County High School senior, used her superior dancing skills in a ballet routine to lift her to this year's title. She is also depending on those dancing skills for her future.
Her dream is to become a Radio City Rockette, and you might say she already has her foot in the door (or on stage).
She has been involved in dancing since she was 4 years old, and has attended the Rockettes' Summer Intensive Program for the past three years.
The program is designed for advanced dancers, age 14 and up, who want to train in the Rockettes style in the home of the Rockettes — at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
The program is in its 18th year, and has produced more than 75 Rockettes.
It offers aspiring professional dancers the unique opportunity to train with the Rockettes and a Rockettes director/choreographer, learning their world-famous precision dance technique. This distinctive style transcends a multitude of dance disciplines, including jazz, tap, musical theater, lyrical and legendary kick line.
Tennessee's new DYW for the coming year is excited by her victory, and pleased with the educational opportunities (scholarships) it brings.
She and her parents, Dale and Gloria Humphrey, are seriously looking at the scholarship offer to the University of Alabama. She said she is also looking at the possibility of attending the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, or Lee University here in Cleveland.
But, education may be forced to a back-burner if Mary's hopes and dreams materialize in New York City.
"I plan to audition for the Rockettes next year, when I reach 18 years of age (the minimum requirement age)," she said.
If she is successful in reaching that lofty goal, and performing on stage with the Rockettes, she said she may delay her education for a period of time, opting for her "dream" career.
But, prior to the Rockettes' audition, she realizes the coming year will be a busy time as the reigning Distinguished Young Woman of Tennessee. She understands she has a number of responsibilities, including preparation for the national competition in Mobile, Ala.
Mary said she has talked with Grace Humble, who was Tennessee's Distinguished Young Woman in 2018, about these commitments.
The summer has already been busy for this year's winner. In addition to the DYW competition here last week, she also attended the Governor's School for the Arts.
"I'm thankful for the DYW title, but, I still can't believe I won," she said.
In high school, Mary is on the dance team, in theater, and president of the Key Club, a possible connection with the Cleveland Kiwanis Club.
In her continuing education, she plans to study dance and kinesiology.
She has an older brother, Rob, who is a Buchanan Scholar at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.
The state winner is also involved in a number of community service projects in McMinnville. She teaches ballet to underprivileged girls (ages 5 to 13) at the Hamilton Street Center.
"I loved to work with the young girls," she volunteered.
In closing, Mary emphasized the Distinguished Young Woman program is very unique.
"It gives us a chance to not only show our skills, but to make several new friends," she said.
She said she now has 18 new "sisters."
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