Halla Maynard: DYW nationals were ‘incredible experience’

By CHRISTY ARMSTRONG Staff Writer
Posted 7/15/17

Halla Maynard, the Distinguished Young Woman of Tennessee for 2017, is reflecting on her experiences at nationals while preparing to welcome a new group of Tennessee hopefuls.

Having won the …

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Halla Maynard: DYW nationals were ‘incredible experience’

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Halla Maynard, the Distinguished Young Woman of Tennessee for 2017, is reflecting on her experiences at nationals while preparing to welcome a new group of Tennessee hopefuls.

Having won the state title in July of last year, she was able to vie for the title of Distinguished Young Woman of America earlier this summer.

The national competition took place June 29 through July 1 in Mobile, Ala., where 51 young women from all 50 states and the District of Columbia showed audiences what they could do.

Maynard, who did not place nationally, is nevertheless thrilled she got to take part in nationals.

“It was a super incredible experience,” Maynard said. “I didn’t walk away with any new awards, but I did walk away with 50 incredible new friends.”

Distinguished Young Women, known as Junior Miss until 2010, is a scholarship program which evaluates each girl in the categories of Scholastics, Interview, Talent, Fitness and Self-Expression.

The program’s motto is “Be Your Best Self,” and Maynard said each participant is encouraged to become “a well-rounded individual who cares about her community and her world.” 

Participants get involved with local Distinguished Young Women programs before going on to compete in state programs. By the time all the state winners are chosen, Maynard said one is left with many intelligent, talented young women with big plans for their futures.

“It was honestly kind of intimidating at first, but I walked away with friendships I will have the rest of my life,” said Maynard.

For a couple weeks leading up to the national finals, the girls got the chance to take part in numerous community service projects and tourist outings in and around Mobile.

These included volunteering at a food distribution center and visiting with Girl Scout troops to share the “Be Your Best Self” message.

Maynard said she also particularly enjoyed outings like visits to the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park and the beach at Dauphin Island.

“It was so much fun getting to explore while getting to know everyone,” Maynard said.

While in Mobile, she and the other competitors also stayed with local host families, which gave them extra sources of support and community knowledge.

Maynard added, while there were plenty of fun times, there were also many days of rehearsals.

In addition to preparing to present their own talents, the competitors also had to practice several group fitness and dance routines.

“We really did quite a lot,” Maynard said. “We maintained about 11 to 13-hour days.”

Though she did not bring home any additional scholarships from nationals, the recent Bradley Central High School graduate already has college covered.

This fall, she will be attending Emory University on the prestigious George W. Jenkins Scholarship. This scholarship will provide her tuition, fees, room and board, a stipend and more for all four years of college.

Though she is still deciding on her ultimate career path, she said she is considering pursuing a career in law or public office.

She added the national Distinguished Young Women competition actually gave her a small taste of what it may be like to be in public office.

“I walked away with a lot more of an understanding of what it means to represent a state — and what that responsibility looks like,” Maynard said.

While she is staying busy preparing to move to Atlanta for college, she is in town this week supporting the Distinguished Young Women of Tennessee competition.

She will be on hand to support the competitors and offer her advice. She will also help present the new state title-holder when the competition ends Saturday night.

Maynard said she is “really excited” to revisit the state competition, and she is looking forward to meeting all of this year’s participants.

Based on what she knows of them so far, Maynard said local audiences can expect to see a group of really talented girls visiting Cleveland this week.

“I have no doubt that Tennessee is going to have a great representative for 2018,” Maynard said.

The state competition takes place this Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., in the Lee University Dixon Center.

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email: christy.armstrong@cleveland banner.com

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