Distinguished Young Women


First place winner Susan Lenard (center) poses with runner-up Brooklyn Climer (left) and third place winner Jenna Engberts (right). Photo courtesy Distinguished Young Women of Wayne-Westland.

Alex Boulton '19, Page Designer

On Friday March 8 2019 the Distinguished Young Women of Wayne Westland put on their annual program at Stockmeyer auditorium at Wayne Memorial High School. This year seven junior girls participated with two from our own school. These girls began the first step to winning scholarship money for the future on February. They then were taught an opening number and even a fitness routine for the next four Sundays. Besides learning for the actual program all the participants were required to attend an Internet Security seminar and volunteer in anyway that relates to community service. An interview was conducted by the board members for each girl a week before the event along with an essay.

The night of the event after the opening number and fitness routine the girls were required to present a talent. This years talents ranged from a praise dance to a swimming monologue.Continuing on with the show the girls showed poise by walking elegantly in ball gowns and heels. To incorporate the community each participant performed a small dance with a young girl that they knew personally or one that wanted to be apart of the program. Throughout the program class of 2019’s winner Alanha Rudd not only performed a song but also participated in the opening number, the Be Your Best Self dance, received a portrait of her, presented questions and presented the overall winners award.

After a long wait the awards were presented to the girls. This year junior Susan Lenard was not only the winner of the whole event but also the recipient of five awards; Scholastic, Interview, Talent, Self Expression/Poise, and Fitness. Other winners of these awards are Wayne Memorial junior Brooklyn Climer who was this year’s first runner up, another John Glenn junior Jenna Engberts, the second runner up and winner of People’s Choice, Ciara Raymond, Ebere Bernard, and Andrea Santiago-Lagunas who are all from Wayne Memorial, along with junior Shauna Jackson who was the recipient of this year’s Spirit award. All the girls went home not only with new friendships but also money to put towards their future endeavors.

Overall this program has given away $5,800 this year in scholarships.

“I first was introduced to the program in 2010 when it was called America’s Junior Miss Scholarship Program. My daughter, Jordan Berry, a Senior at Wayne Memorial, won the title of Wayne-Westland Junior Miss for 2010 that year and went on to participate in the State program. During her experience, I instantly fell in love with the core values of the program and the wonderful life skills it taught my daughter and the opportunities it provided to all participants. In 2013, I was asked to Co-Direct the program with the amazing and talented, Lauren (Perry) Reed. I have had the absolute pleasure of working with Lauren ever since. Watching the growth and development of our alumni girls as they moved through college, and now, some into their careers has truly been one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. I am so very proud of this program and the incredibly talented volunteers I have had the pleasure of working alongside. Their footprint on this program is far-reaching and I am blessed to be a part of an amazing team. I believe wholeheartedly in the DYW mission to develop and create leaders in our young women, starting in high school, into college and beyond and am looking forward to being involved for many years to come.” said co-director Jodi Berry

This scholarship competition should not be mistaken for a beauty pageant. Every type of young girl is encouraged to join. Distinguished Young Women strives to have these girls leave with not only new friendships they can have forever but also to have them leave with money and a new insight and mindset of their future life.

“This program is important because it is truly bringing a lot of people together not only from all over but also in the community. It creates a safe environment that helps these young girls learn, grow, and prosper,” co-director Lauren Reed said. “This program sets them up for success by giving them skills and experiences for the future.”

“I was introduced to the program as a Senior in High School at John Glenn where I participated and won the 2005 Wayne-Westland Junior Miss title. Through that process I was transformed by not only the incredibly rewarding experience but also the inspiring mentors and individuals that I met. After 2005, I had been intermittently involved with the program from an Emcee and volunteer perspective and in 2013 I began co-directing the Wayne-Westland program with the amazing Jodi Berry. I truly believe that Distinguished Young Woman is one of the best confidence and life skill building experiences available to High School young women, with an emphasis on learning to be the best version of themselves. I am proud to support DYW alongside the incredible committee that pours their heart, time and expertise into our local and state programs.” said co-director Lauren Reed.

For the winners this is not over. They have a week in the summer where they will stay with a host family in another city and compete in a more condensed version of this program. There will be groups from not only local groups but larger ones as well. This States experience is more immersed with community, culture, and overall development for these girls. The winner of States will then go on to be the Michigan representative who ends up going to Alabama after their high school graduation to participate in the Distinguished Young Women National Finals. They spend two weeks getting to know girls from around the country, enjoying fun events, volunteering in the local community, developing Life Skills for college and beyond, rehearsing for the final showcase and performing on stage during the National Finals.