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Distinguished Through the Decades: 2012, Mariah Horton

Progress 2022: Distinguished Through the Decades

When Franklin County Distinguished Young Woman 2012 Mariah Horton thinks back on her involvement, its overall impact is straightforward and monumental: “The DYW program helped lay the foundation for success for my upcoming college years and my career.”

Horton, a Red Bay High School graduate, is now practicing as an occupational therapist in the home health setting. She and her husband Brad – who got married in 2020 amidst the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic – live in Corinth, Mississippi.

In high school Horton said she was active in many sports, clubs and activities. “I played basketball and softball and ran track. I was a member of the FFA, where I held various leadership roles, FBLA, Beta Club, English Club, Spanish Club, Science Club, FCCLA, Leo Club and Homecoming Float Committee,” said Horton, whose FFA involvement led to the opportunity to sing at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium. “My friends and I spent our Friday nights at our high school football games, which became the highlight of our weekends.”

Horton said she was most attracted to the DYW program for the scholarship potential, as well as to develop new friendships and networking opportunities.

“When I entered the program, I was most anxious and challenged by the opening number and Self Expression categories because I had no background of dance,” Horton noted. “However, these categories of the program taught me to rise to the challenge, and the opening number became my favorite part of the production. There was so much excitement and anticipation with the curtain opening, spotlights shining and energy in the crowd. It set the tone for the rest of the evening.”

Like many of her fellow DYW winners and participants, Horton said she found special satisfaction in the talent component of the evening. “I still remember the feeling of singing in front of that crowd and the enjoyment of watching my friends alongside me in DYW perform their talents,” said Horton, who, for her own part, sang Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.”

With the scholarship money from DYW, Horton attended the University of North Alabama, graduating in 2016 with her bachelor’s degree in health, physical education and recreation, with a concentration in exercise science. “While in my undergraduate studies, I shadowed occupational therapy in a variety of settings and became very passionate about the profession,” said Horton. “I decided to further my education and attended graduate school at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, where I graduated in 2019 with a doctorate degree in occupational therapy.

Outside of work, Horton said she and her husband and love to travel and spend time with their families. “Outside of my primary career, I also enjoy travel planning for destinations including Disney, Universal Studios and Sandals/Beaches,” said Horton. For her future, “my husband and I plan to start a family and continue with our travels. I plan to further myself in my career and continue working my dream job.”

Distinguished Young Women, Horton said, was “an unforgettable experience.”

“I am forever grateful to have been involved with the DYW program and to have had the honor of being Franklin County’s Distinguished Young Woman 2012,” she said. “I would encourage anyone to step out of their comfort zone and be a part of this wonderful program. Not only was it a fun experience, but it also taught me more about myself and prepared me for my future. DYW was a significant stepping stone to where I am today.”

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