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Castillo vies for state DYW

The 2017 Distinguished Young Women of Alabama Program will be in full swing next week, and Franklin County is being represented by Belgreen’s Ana Castillo.

Castillo was selected in August through the Northwest Alabama Distinguished Young Women Scholarship Program.

High school senior winners from across Alabama will be in Montgomery next week for the state program, in its 60th year. Participants will compete for $41K in cash scholarships and more than $2 million in college-granted scholarships, along with the opportunity to represent the state as the Distinguished Young Woman of Alabama for 2017.

The 49 young women competing for the state title will be evaluated on interview, scholastics, fitness, talent and self-expression, with evaluations being made by a panel of five judges, during the DYW program Jan. 20-21. The participant selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Alabama will advance to the national level at the 60th Distinguished Young Women National Finals in Mobile – where the program was founded – in June 2017, 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.

“Distinguished Young Women contestants, from the local to state and national levels, are the cream of the crop,” explained Susan Hargett, a coordinator for the local program. The competition, however, is far from cut-throat. “Girls develop lifetime friendships and skills to help them in all walks of life.”

Castillo 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.

Last year’s DYW for Franklin County was Holly Hardin. Last year’s Distinguished Young Woman of Alabama was MaryGrace Long, of Shelby County.

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.

Castillo has been an active participant in Beta Club, FBLA, SADD, History Club, Junior Scholars Bowl, Franklin County Junior Leadership, Upward Bound, FCA, volleyball, basketball and FBA. She has also served as class president and been recognized with such awards and designations as Most Outstanding Girl, Most Courteous, Best All Around and volleyball MVP 2016, among others.

She is the daughter of Maria and Hugo Castillo.