DYW Scholarship program – An evening to remember

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, July 25, 2023

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The 2024 Distinguished Young Women (DYW) for Butler and Lowndes Counties scholarship program was held at The Ritz Theatre on July 22. Six participants from Lowndes County and four from Butler County were judged by a panel in the categories scholastics, self-expression, talent, fitness, interview, essay, and spirit in hopes of winning cash tuition scholarships.  

“All of the girls truly showed why they are distinguished,” said Butler County DYW Chairman, Starla Jones. “It was a privilege to work with each and every one of them as we watched them grow. I hope this experience is an important milestone for them as they enter their senior year.”

The participants compete in five different categories each to earn a varying score percentage. Before the program, 50% of the participants’ scores were compiled, with judging in scholastics for 25% and interviews for 25%. The remaining portion of the competition was judged onstage as participants performed in self-expression for 15%, talent for 20%, and fitness for 15%. Participants also vied for scholarship awards for the “Be Your Best Self” essay, the Spirit Award, and the Good Luck Signatures. 

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“Much appreciation to all of those who helped in some way to make the program possible,” Jones said. “Especially board members who worked tirelessly to get the job done, the scholarship donors for which the program is all about and others who provided items for the week and in support of the production itself.”

The winner of the 2024 Distinguished Young Women of Lowndes County is Carolyn Jean Forest. Forest received $950 for winning the spirit award, talent, fitness, self expression, and interview competitions, along with a $50 gift card from Wintzell’s for winning the “Good Luck Signatures”. As the DYW title winner she received a $1,500 Scholarship, the official Distinguished Young Women medallion, a photo session with Anna Findley Photography and will represent Lowndes County at the state program in January.  

“I am so blessed to have even been in this program,” Forest said. “Being chosen for Lowndes County as the Distinguished Young Woman of 2024 really means a lot. I love to be a leader in my community and in school. So getting to represent this amazing county truly means a lot.”

The Lowndes County DYW first runner-up is Madison Hardy who was awarded a $1,000 scholarship. Amelia Nichols earned $350 for winning the scholastic and the “Be Your Best Self” essay contest.

“DYW is a once in a lifetime experience,” said Lowndes County DYW Chairman, Hanna Thrower. “Ten girls from two counties just completed a wonderful self discovery journey. I watched the girls grow immensely through the summer in confidence and truly learn what it means to ‘Be Your Best Self.’”

The winner of the 2024 Distinguished Young Women of Butler County is Anne Elise Shealy. Shealy was awarded $1,350 for winning the “Be Your Best Self” essay, talent, fitness, self expression, and interview. She earned a $1,500 Scholarship for winning the DYW title, a $3000 scholarship to Lurleen B. Wallace Community College, the official Distinguished Young Women medallion, a photo session with Anna Findley Photography, and will represent Butler County at the state program in January.

“I’m so excited and elated!” Shealy said. “It’s just been a great week with all of these amazing girls and I’m beyond excited!”

Alli Butts was named The Butler County DYW first runner-up and was awarded a $1,000 scholarship. Rebecca Coleman was awarded $450 for winning the scholastic and the spirit award and received a $50 gift card from Wintzell’s for winning the “Good Luck Signatures”.

Fathers of former winners funded the Proud Papa Scholarship of $100, which was awarded to each Butler County participant. The Lowndes County participants also received a $100 scholarship each that was sponsored by the Lowndes County Alumni.

The DYW 2023 winner for Butler County Vivian Gates, and Lowndes County winner Harley Hooper performed their talents throughout the program, spoke about the DYW state competition, and said goodbye to their titles in one final walk across the stage before awarding the 2024 winners. The High Heel Boot Camp participants, ranging in ages preschool to sixth grade, performed a dance routine while the judges Brooke Turnage, Walter Hayden, Wendy White, Stacie McLendon, and Leigh Blackwell deliberated the scores. The contestant’s “little sisters”, girls entering their junior year of high school who supported and encouraged participants throughout the program, also performed a dance routine.

“Congratulations to them all, especially Anne Elise and Carolyn Jean!” Thrower said. “We hope that our communities will come to support these two very special young ladies on January 19-20 in the state competition at Frasier Church in Montgomery.”