1/29/2014 1:39:00 PM Seven Distinguished Young Women set to compete
Photo by Erik Pague Contestants in the 2014 Distinguished Young Women program pose for a photo with 2013 winner Melissa Guzman in pink, in the middle at the Old Hotel Art Gallery Friday, Jan. 17. From left to right: Tatum Sparks, Stephania Miron, Emily Risenmay, Brianna Harper, Guzman, Ariana Ashton, Brenda Fleshman and Jailene Alvarez.
For the past two months, a group of dedicated juniors from Othello High School have been preparing for the upcoming Distinguished Young Women program, scheduled for March 1 at 7 p.m. at the McFarland Middle School Auditorium. Tickets cost $10 and can be picked up at ReMax or through Debbie Haworth by calling 488-3022. The competition will award a scholarship to one of the seven who do the best in the categories of talent, academic achievement, fitness, self-expression and interviewing. No matter what brings the ladies to the program, they all share a passion for working hard and staying dedicated to a goal. Some want to follow in a friend or family member's footsteps, while others are hoping to win the scholarship to make college a little more affordable. They all want to put on a good show and are putting in long hours to do so. "I came for the scholarship opportunities and my friend Morgan did it last year," contestant Stephania Miron said. "I saw how much fun she was having, so that's why I decided to do it." Each of the girls has a jam-packed schedule, including sports, college-level AP courses, jobs and plenty of other things going on in their lives and have to sometimes make crazy adjustments to fit in all of the DYW work. They know it will pay off and see the pageant as a chance to demonstrate how well rounded they are. One contestant, Jailene Alvarez, got involved after watching her cousin compete in the Royal City version of DYW. She is a year-round athlete and said she's always busy but is still finding ways to tighten up her performance in the final weeks leading up to the show. "Everything has to be perfect from now on," she said. "You have to be focused ... for me, it's nerve wracking because I've never done anything like this. It's just going to have to be going out there, doing it and having fun." Brenda Fleshman, a teammate of Alvarez's on the varsity basketball team, feels she'll do the best in the academics portion of the competition. She said that even though they will ultimately have to face each other on that fateful day, they've all grown up with each other and are all growing together as they prepare for the big day. "We've all gotten to know each other more through this," Fleshman said. Alvarez looks to the fact she was a teammate of most of her fellow competitors and Miron thought that no matter who comes out on top, they've all benefitted from the experience. "I have that connection with them through sports ... so I don't feel like I'm going against them," Alvarez said.