RBHS senior competes in state DYW Program
The 2016 Distinguished Young Women of Alabama Program is in full swing this week, and Franklin County is being represented by Red Bay’s Holly Hardin.
Hardin was selected in August through the Northwest Alabama Distinguished Young Women Scholarship Program.
“I’m very excited and honored to represent the county,” Hardin said. “I hope to represent the county very well.”
High school senior winners from across Alabama are in Montgomery this week for the state program, in its 59th year. “While here, they will be visiting various groups and community venues, all while preparing for the program,” explains a press release from DYW. “Participants will compete for $41,000 in cash scholarships and over $2 million in college granted scholarships and the opportunity to represent the state as the Distinguished Young Woman of Alabama for 2016.”
As for Hardin, last week was full of preparation, practicing her talent and doing mock interviews. She said she was looking forward to getting to Montgomery and being with the other girls across the state who are participating.
“I know they’re all feeling as anxious as I am,” Hardin said.
Hardin said the interview portion, which makes up 25 percent of her evaluation, is her favorite part. For the talent portion, which represents 20 percent, Hardin plans to perform “So Long Dearie” from “Hello Dolly,” for which her grandmother made her costume.
The self-expression category, representing 15 percent, “is when we’ll wear our evening gowns. It’s a more elegant section,” Hardin said. The participants will be expected to exhibit grace and poise as they answer a question. They have been split into four groups, each group with a different question to answer. Hardiin and the other young women in her group have been asked to explain what the biggest problem in America is right now, given the choice among racism, sexism or ageism.
“It’s kind of a controversial topic, so that’s something different than the local competition,” Hardin said. “It takes it up a step, definitely.”
The 52 young women competing will also be evaluated on scholastics (25 percent) and fitness (15 percent), with evaluations being made by a panel of five judges. The participant selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Alabama will advance to the national level at the 59th Distinguished Young Women National Finals in Mobile – where the program was founded – in June 2016, where she will join with 49 other state representatives in competing for cash scholarships and the opportunity to represent the program as the Distinguished Young Woman of America.
“We are proud of Holly and what she’s working toward. It’s a big honor for her and Franklin County and Red Bay,” said RBHS Principal Kenny Sparks.
He said Hardin is “a very good student.”
“She’s very active in different things,” Sparks said. “She is a well-rounded student. She makes a great representative for our school and our county.”
Sparks said Red Bay is pulling for Hardin and hopes she wins, but even if she doesn’t, they are still proud.
“It’s not easy doing what she’s doing,” Sparks said. “Just being there is an honor. We wish her the best.”
“Being the Distinguished Young Woman of Alabama would be a huge honor,” Hardin said. “It’s such a reputable program. I feel like I could represent the organization very well … Coming from a little county, I think it would mean more … so I’m really excited about this opportunity. I think it’s great.”
Hardin said her family plans to come and watch her compete, “but I can’t see them until after the pageant Saturday,” she added. “It’s going to be a full week without any communication, really. I can’t have a cellphone or a computer. I can get mail, but that’s about all I can get for the week.”
Hardin will stay with a host family and have a fellow DYW candidate as a roommate for the week. With the other participants, she will take part in a number of activities leading up to the competition, include lunch at the Cattleman’s Association with all host moms; a trip to the Montgomery Zoo; a presentation to elementary school students; and lunch with the Kiwanis Club.
Previously known as America’s Junior Miss, the program announced its new name in June 2010. The mission of Distinguished Young Women is to “positively impact the lives of young women by providing a transformative experience that promotes and rewards scholarship, leadership and talent.”
To attend the DYW Alabama program, cost is $17 Friday night (7:30 p.m.), $17 Saturday afternoon (1:30 p.m.) and $30 Saturday night (7 p.m.). A weekend pass is $55.