A women’s scholarship program is navigating the constraints of COVID-19 by continuing its national competition through virtual submissions and online broadcasting.
For the first time, the Distinguished Young Women National Finals will solely air on the organization’s website, DistinguishedYW.org. This virtual edition will replace the program’s annual in-person showcase in Mobile, Alabama.
Over the last 63 years, The Distinguished Young Women Scholarship Program has evolved into an inclusive, education-oriented take on classic American pageantry. As a free-to-enter program, D.Y.W prides itself on making $1 billion in scholarship available every year and hosting leadership competitions throughout the United States.
Although the broadcasted portion does not begin until the last weekend of June, Arkansas’ 2020 Distinguished Young Woman and Bald Knob-native Sarah Gibson has already started the competitive process.
Through a video conference call, Gibson completed the individual interview and public speaking portions of the competition. Gibson additionally submitted a video for the fitness round and a tap-dancing performance for her talent. For the scholastic score, Gibson’s performance is determined by an evaluation of her high school academics and standardized testing scores.
Although all 50 Distinguished Young Women participants are evaluated through 5 competitive portions, only the public speaking, fitness and talent submissions will be compiled and available for online viewing.
As many scholarship competitions around the nation have chosen to forego the national portion of its program due to COVID-19, the Distinguished Young Women organization is excited to face COVID-19 challenges head-on and move forward in a one-of-a-kind fashion.
We have all this scholarship money and it would be a shame not to give it to the girls who have been prepping for months, says Tara Principe, the organization’s marketing and communication director. “To pull it completely was never even a consideration.”
During the course of the competition weekend, $125,000 in college scholarships will be awarded to participants. On the final evening of the virtual show, a panel of judges will select one woman to represent the Class of 2020.
“These young women are intelligent, ambitious and ready to take their place as leaders in their communities,” said Executive Director of Distinguished Young Women Kendra Haskins in a statement released this week. “We are excited to highlight Distinguished Young Women this weekend by highlighting these participants and celebrating the thousands of others who have been impacted by this incredible program throughout the year.”
Anyone interested in watching the 63rd Distinguished Young Women Scholarship Program can do so at www.DistinguishedYW.org on June 25, 26 and 27.