Heartsill represents county at DYW’s state program

Published 9:48 am Thursday, February 7, 2013

Jenna Heartsill’s toughest competition was her nerves.

Heartsill, a senior at Fort Dale Academy and Fort Deposit resident, wanted to represent Lowndes County in this year’s Distinguished Young Woman pageant. But Lowndes County didn’t hold a pageant.

That meant that Heartsill had to compete in DYW at-large program, which was held at St. James School in Montgomery.

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The at-large program is the first level of participation for young women who do not live in a community with a local program. Instead of a show format that a local program uses, the at-large program uses an audition format.

While Heartsill was the only contestant from Lowndes County, she still had to prove to the judges that she could compete at the state level.

“It was a good thing to represent the county,” she said, as, “Last year, we didn’t have a representative. So, it was good to actually have someone representing Lowndes.”

DYW is a scholarship program that was founded in 1958 in Mobile. It is the largest and oldest national scholarship program for high school girls, and has awarded more than $93 million in cash scholarships at the local, state and national levels since its creation.

In addition to cash scholarships, Distinguished Young Women participants are eligible for college-granted scholarships from almost 200 colleges and universities. According to the DYW website, more than $108 million in college scholarship opportunities were provided to DYW participants last year.

Contestants compete in five categories: scholastics, interview, talent, fitness and self-expression.

For the talent portion of the contest, Heartsill played “Irish Washerwoman” on the violin.

During the interview, Heartsill discussed her plans following graduation.

“Animals are my passion,” Heartsill said. “I talked about how I want to be a veterinarian.”

Heartsill said she has already been accepted to Auburn University.