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Distinguished Young Women names local winners

Forty-three young women from Franklin, Colbert and Lauderdale counties, competed in the annual Distinguished Young Women scholarship program Saturday.

Jayce Vinson, of Red Bay High School, was chosen as this year’s Distinguished Young Woman of Franklin County. Sarah Morgan, a Colbert County resident and student at Russellville High School, was chosen as this year’s Distinguished Young Woman of Colbert County.

Vinson, daughter of Jason and Jessica Vinson, was also the Franklin County category winner for fitness, self-expression, scholastics and talent.

“I’m so grateful I had this opportunity,” explained Vinson. “I made a lot of new friends and got out of my comfort zone.”

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. Her career goal is to become a physical therapist.

Russellville High School’s Madeline Cooper, who was awarded Distinguished Young Woman for Franklin County this past year, performed in the program, as is customary for each overall county winner. Cooper is now attending the University of North Alabama.

Morgan, daughter of Dr. Tom and Laura Morgan, also won the scholastics and talent categories for Colbert County. She also received the Spirit of Distinguished Young Women award, a recognition bestowed by fellow participants to the one they feel best exemplifies the Distinguished Young Women Spirit.

“I’m so excited and incredibly grateful,” said Morgan. “I came in here just wanting to meet new friends, and it pushed me out of my comfort zone, and I had the best time.”

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.

Isabella Hanson was chosen as the Distinguished Young Woman of Lauderdale County.

“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.”

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.

Katernia Cole-Coffey is also a co-chair, and Nicole Henderson is production coordinator. Judges included Leslie Randolph Patterson, Dedra Eastland Pennington, JeniLee Rutherford, Julie Schlosser and Neilan Tyree. Bishop Alexander and Tiara Pennington served as emcees.

Cole-Coffey said she’s proud to be part of the Distinguished Young Women program.

“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,” she said. “It has been a joy working with these young ladies.”

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