The Distinguished Young Women pose with their “Junior Misses” whom they bond with and help mentor as a part of the “Be Your Best Self” program. (Molly Balison)
The Distinguished Young Women pose with their “Junior Misses” whom they bond with and help mentor as a part of the “Be Your Best Self” program.

Molly Balison

MEET THE DISTINGUISHED YOUNG WOMEN

Learn about the girls competing for this year’s DYW scholarships and why they’ve committed to this program

March 16, 2020

Young ladies in the junior class have the opportunity to learn, practice, and showcase various skills and etiquette to compete for scholarships in the program known as Distinguished Young Women. The girls will be judged on five categories which include scholastics, fitness, self expression, talent, and interview. Seniors Mikayla Schoening, April Radford, and Sloan Strock, who were participants in the program last year, are assuming the leadership roles to help equip these junior girls with the skills and etiquette they need to do well in the competition. Last year, Schoening was named the 2019 Distinguished Young Woman of Sandpoint and was awarded the winning scholarship of $3000. “Being a coach is really fun because you form a bond with the participants and there’s a trust that they form with you and it’s really special,” Schoening said. 

When asked what this year’s contestants’ qualities are, Schoening responded with, “The girls this year are amazing with unity. They have all become so close and it’s so cool to see. They also are doing well with the commitment. For the most part, they are always at practices and on time, while being prepared for practices. They’re a really good group of girls.” You can go support these dedicated young women at their program on March 21 beginning at 7pm in the Sandpoint Middle School gym as they perform the skills they’ve been practicing for months for the community. Meet the members of 2020 Distinguished Young Women below. 

CAITLYN SMITH

Why did you decide to join Distinguished Young Women? 

“I decided to join because I heard it was a scholarship program, and I thought if I could get a headstart to getting money for college that I would definitely do it.”

What talent will you be presenting in the contest? 

“I will be playing my violin, but I will playing fiddle music.”

How do you think the experience of this program will benefit you in your future? 

“I feel like scholarships and school will look at this and see that I am a committed person and I will take the opportunity to further myself in education and through new things such as [DYW]”

AUTUMN MORGAN

Why did you decide to join Distinguished Young Women? 

“I decided to join Distinguished Young Women mostly for the scholarships and for the influence that Mikayla Schoening had on me. She said it was a really fun program so I thought I’d try it.”

What talent will you be presenting in the contest?

“I’m going to be singing “Make You Feel my Love” by Adele.

What category in the competition are you most looking forward to and why? 

“I think I’m probably looking forward to fitness just because I think it’s the most fun to me and the category we’ll probably do the best in.”

CAMILLE NEUDER

Why did you decide to join Distinguished Young Women? 

“I kind of grew up knowing about the program. I just thought that what it stood for was really cool. There are five core values in the Be Your Best Self Program about being ambitious, studious, responsible, honest, and healthy. I think it’s a really great opportunity for young girls to be able to expand their interests and find stuff that they might not have been able to experience before and with new people. It’s definitely out of my comfort zone so it’s been cool meeting new people.”

What talent will you be presenting in the contest? 

“I am going to be singing the song ‘True Colors’ by Cydni Lauper and I am going to play the ukulele.” 

What is the most valuable skill that you’ve learned through this program? 

“We work a lot on interviews. The reason I think it’s so useful is because it’s something I can directly use in the future like every time you have a job interview or anytime you’re just meeting someone for the first time and want to make a good impression. We learn how to talk with purpose and deliver yourself in a way that will be well received and communicate the type of person you want to portray. 

LIBBY MCLAUGHLIN

Why did you decide to join Distinguished Young Women? 

“I joined because April Radford texted me and said they needed more people to join.  I was already considering doing it because it sounded like fun and when I was little I really wanted to. I figured I would join because I needed to be forced to workout, it worked with my schedule, and I liked the people who were in it so it was perfect for me.

What talent will you be presenting in the contest? 

“I am doing the ‘Vote for Pedro’ dance from Napoleon Dynamite.” 

What is your favorite aspect of training for the competition? 

“I really like the girls in it. Everybody is super supportive of each other and really nice. It’s like we’re a little family and it’s so much fun. We love each other.”

KATIE STEWART

Why did you decide to join Distinguished Young Women? 

“I was thinking about it because I’ve had friends who have done it in the past and my mom really wanted me to do it because she did it. I was really nervous for having to get in front of people, but then Libby said she was going to do it and I knew that she would support me if I did it with her.”

What talent will you be presenting in the contest? 

“I am doing a comedic Bob Ross impersonation. When I get up there, my name is going to ‘Rob Boss’ and I’m going to be painting blindly while staring at the audience. You’re just going to have to come to the show to see…”

What is the most difficult or nerve-wracking aspect of training to be a distinguished young woman? 

“The fact that you have to do this in front of everyone is scary because you are being judged on everything that you do and say. Basically the scholarships you recieve are based on how people perceive you.”

ROSIE TIENTONG

Why did you decide to join Distinguished Young Women? 

“I decided to join Distinguished Young Women because it looks really good on college applications. I don’t participate in any sports or clubs so I felt like it would be really healthy for me because there is a program within the DYW program called the “Be Your Best Self” program which is about staying healthy and responsible and taking care of yourself in the best way. 

What talent will you be presenting in the contest? 

“I am going to play the ukulele and sing “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen. 

Of the DYW members, who has been your biggest support or influence and why? 

“I think Camille Neuder has probably been my biggest influencer because she just brings a lot of positivity in our group and I have talked to her about my future plans outside of high school. And outside of the program I think she does a great job at motivating me and others.”

MANDY BROWN

Why did you decide to join Distinguished Young Women? 

“I first decided to join Distinguished Young Women because of Mikayla Schoening, last year’s DYW. She convinced me then I showed up to the first meeting and thought, ‘I really want to do that’. I thought it’d be fun and it was with a lot of people I’d never met before and didn’t really hang out with.”

What talent will you be showcasing in the contest? 

I will be showcasing a science experiment. I consider my knowledge to be one of my talents so I want to showcase that a little more.”

What has been your biggest take-away from this program?

“There have been so many take-aways. We had an etiquette dinner where we got to learn dinner manners, we’ve had mock interviews, and we’ve had to go and ask for sponsorships from business owners. We’ve also been mentoring young girls and helping to teach them to make good choices and be the best person they can.”

JORDAN CASSIDY

Why did you decide to join Distinguished Young Women? 

“I chose to join distinguished young women because I wanted to get to know the other participants better and I believed that I would have the opportunity to learn valuable life skills.”

What talent will you be presenting in the contest? 

“I will be performing sign language to the song “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten at the program.”

What were your expectations going into DYW? 

“I expected DYW to be a program that could help us all learn how to be more open with people around us and teach us skills about interviewing and public speaking.”

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