After two nights of gruelling competition — which followed four days of rehearsals, community volunteer activities and citywide smiles by the entire field of 18 contestants — Courtney emerged the winner. It was a deserved honor for this Distinguished Young Woman who won individual categories in Interview, Fitness and Scholastic.
But accolades can be spread among others, as well.
One is the likable Kalah Vance who came to Cleveland as winner of the Distinguished Young Woman of Tullahoma. Kalah finished as first runner-up. Truly, it is a rare feat for the same community to send two of its finest teenage role models to the same DYW state program. Tullahoma residents can stand proud, and we thank them for sending us such delightful young women.
Another winner in this year’s DYW program brought to us a familiar face and a charming smile. She is Cleveland DYW Laura Kate Evans who came away with honors of her own.
The talented young local won the Spirit Award of which she was chosen by her DYW peers in the program. And, the Cleveland darling won the Talent category award with her violin performance of “Czardas” by Vittorio Monti.
For each of the past five years that Cleveland has hosted the state DYW program, it has been difficult for our newspaper not to cheer for the young local. As deserving as our own teenagers are of our support, to do so during the week of competition would be inappropriate. However, with the week of activities now concluded, it is our hope to sit down with Laura Kate for an interview and a detailed feature that will help the community to best appreciate why she won the DYW of Cleveland competition, and how she represented her family and community so very well in the state contest.
Truly, Courtney, Kalah and Laura Kate are to be commended. Each is a proven winner.
But the same can be said of the entire field of state contestants. Each brought her best to Cleveland and all represented their communities, their schools, their churches and their families with the kind of smile, grace and charm that would befit any Chamber of Commerce promotion.
We are especially impressed with an interview conducted with Courtney last Sunday, the day after she had been named Distinguished Young Woman of Tennessee.
“It’s definitely uplifting,” she said of the DYW program. “It’s more about being a real girl than something others want you to be.”
In just two short sentences, this year’s winner spoke to the heart of what the Distinguished Young Women program is all about.
It also brings out the finest — and the surprises — wrapped within the soul of each young woman. For instance, who would have guessed one of this year’s contestants listed two of her favorite hobbies as camping and fishing? Not exactly the image of a sophisticated young DYW, but it is real.
She is Courtney Miller, this year’s winner.
Other contestants share personal interests that are just as unique and wonderfully refreshing.
We wish them all well in their respective futures. We offer our best to Courtney who will travel to Mobile, Ala., in June 2014 to compete in the Distinguished Young Woman of America competition.
At whatever level — local, state or national — DYW isn’t just about the winning.
It’s about the scholarships.
It’s about the experience.
It’s about the self-expression.
It’s about putting a best foot forward into a promising life ahead.
We thank Distinguished Young Women of Tennessee for again choosing Cleveland. We hope you enjoyed your week in our community. We invite you to enjoy many more.