By Carolyn Marnon – It’s almost time for the annual Wayne-Westland Distinguished Young Women program where high school junior young ladies gather together to compete for scholarship money. The program will be at the Stottlemeyer Auditorium at Wayne Memorial High School on Friday, March 9, at 7:00 p.m.
The ladies who are competing are working hard right now on their physical fitness routines, practicing their individual talents, and learning interview skills. All high school junior females from Wayne-Westland had the opportunity to participate. Only a small number choose to get involved each year as they seek fun, friendship and money for college.
Hailey Dottor was the Distinguished Young Woman of Wayne-Westland 2014. “In my senior year of high school at Wayne Memorial, it was advertised in the school quite a bit, and I had multiple friends who competed in the previous years. I was really interested in the scholarship program but didn’t really understand what it was all about. I talked with girls from previous years and they explained it as ‘an opportunity for college scholarship money by showcasing your talents, academics, and passions.’ I could not pass up an opportunity like that! I quickly contacted the directors and started with the group shortly after.”
She goes on to say, “As a college senior nursing student, so many things from this program have helped me in life and academic life. Interview skills are one thing we learn in the program, since an interview is a sacred portion of the program. I have used these skills in a variety of interview settings such as college, externships, and even future nursing job interviews. This program enables us as young women to grow in our confidence and with that, we are able to accomplish more than we believe we can! Since the program has ended, I have used this confidence to grow in my everyday life, my education and in dance, as I now dance for the Detroit Tigers.”
“My advice for the girls this year would be to get past the thought of this being a competition with one winner. This is a time in my life I could go back on and relive again so enjoy your practices, enjoy your silly inside jokes with each other, enjoy all these amazing friendships and memories you will make. Most importantly, remember that we are simply picking a representative from a wonderful and amazing group of bright winners.”
Teresa Soleau was Wayne-Westland Junior Miss 2001 and went on to become Michigan’s Junior Miss 2001. Junior Miss was the name of the organization before it transformed into Distinguished Young Women. Teresa wanted to attend a private liberal arts college; she thought the program would be a great way to earn some money towards college. “Many other girls from my dance studio in Westland (Susie’s Dance Pointe) had participated in the program, and so I’d gone to watch it many times and it seemed like fun.”
“I met so many people from so many different communities and backgrounds – from other participants to host families and volunteers. When I competed at nationals in Mobile, Alabama there was one representative from each state. It was great to feel connected to 50 other young women from across the country, as I’d lived my whole life up to that point in Michigan. This program was a great way for me to be exposed to a variety of different viewpoints and in turn to build confidence in my own self. For the state and national programs you’re spending 1-2 weeks with complete strangers, but by the end you’ve developed these lasting bonds. I’m still in touch with some of the people from my nationals program.”
Teresa is involved with the program still today. She is a scholastic judge for the local programs in Michigan and for the state program. She also designs the program cover each year for Wayne-Westland’s event.
After earning a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Oberlin College in Ohio in 2005 and her Master Degree in Library and Information Studies from UCLA in 2009, Teresa is currently employed in Los Angeles as the Head of Library Systems and Digital Services for the Getty Research Institute. Teresa advises girls to “enjoy your time in the program. Recognize that this is a unique experience that only a few of your fellow classmates will have the pleasure of being involved in. Use the interview to prepare for the job market. If you take it seriously, you will feel more confident when you have your first job interview after high school knowing that you’ve been through an interview before (and survived to tell the tale!)”
Please support this year’s group of girls as they gather on Friday, March 9, to compete for scholarship money and entertain the audience.
If you know a girl in Wayne-Westland who is currently a high school sophomore, tell her about this program. She might like to attend this year’s program to see what is involved which might prompt her to want to sign up for next year’s program when she is a junior. Orientation will take place January 2019.