Ad Spot

Distinguished Young Women takes stage Aug. 13

The annual Distinguished Young Women scholarship program, held in Norton Auditorium on the campus of the University of North Alabama, returns Aug. 13 at 6 p.m.

Distinguished Young Women, formerly America’s Junior Miss, was founded in 1958 as a way to reward the accomplishments of high school senior girls seeking to pursue higher education.

The Distinguished Young Women of Alabama website describes the program as “part of a national scholarship program that promotes and rewards scholarship, leadership and talent in young women.” Local winners will advance to the state program in Montgomery.

This year’s program will feature 43 young women from Franklin, Colbert and Lauderdale counties. They will practice all week leading up to the show to polish their routines and talents. All contestants must be high school juniors.

The current Distinguished Young Woman for Franklin County is Madeline Cooper of Russellville High School.

Among competitors, Jayce Vinson, of Red Bay High School, daughter of Jason and Jessica Vinson, will compete for Franklin County, and Sarah Morgan, a student at Russellville High School, daughter of Dr. Tim and Laura Morgan, will compete for Colbert County.

Vinson’s career goal is to be a physical therapist, and among her activities are varsity basketball and volleyball, as well as tennis team and Beta Club historian. She is a 2019 Red Bay FFA String Band State Champion, in addition to being a member of FBLA and a graduate of the Franklin County Junior Leaders program.

Morgan’s career goal is in the field of accounting. Among her activities, she is RHS varsity cheer captain, a member of the National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta and the secretary for the National Technical Honor Society. She is also a graduate of the Franklin County Junior Leadership program.

Both young women are involved in a number of other activities.

Scoring is made up of five areas, with Interview and academics each counting 25 percent, talent accounting for 20 percent and fitness and self-expression each counting 15 percent. Each county will have one overall winner, alternates and category winners. In addition, there will be a Be Your Best Self essay winner, as well as a Spirit Winner, selected by the contestants.

Merchants and individuals from across all three counties support funding for cash scholarships for the young women in the program, and the University of North Alabama gives renewable scholarship funds to every overall winner.

“Distinguished Young Women is a program in which participants grow as individuals and gain valuable life skills to help in their college years and careers,” explained co-chair Susan Hargett. “It challenges them to learn about themselves by building on their strengths and developing expertise for the future.”

Katernia Cole Coffey is also co-chair, and Nicole Henderson is production coordinator.

“Distinguished Young Women Northwest Alabama is proud to be a part of the oldest national scholarship program that inspires young women in high school to develop their full, individual potential through a fun, transformative experience that culminates in a celebratory showcase of their accomplishments,” explained Cole Coffey.

“Our goal is to help participants present their best self, not only during preparation for the program and the event but also for the rest of their lives. They spend time preparing in many different categories.”

Tickets are on sale and can be purchased on Venmo@DYW-Northwest-1 for $12 each in advance or $15 at the door. Doors will open at 5 p.m. on the day of the show. For more information, visit