Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Get to know Nicolette Young - Distinguished Young Woman of New Mexico 2014

Name: Nicolette Young 
Hometown: Las Cruces, NM
College: University of New Mexico
Major: International Business

What is your favorite food? Sushi

What is your favorite TV show? Modern Family 

What is your favorite Olympic sport? Gymnastics 

What is your favorite time of day? Sunset

What is your favorite time of year? Late Fall 

Plan ahead OR procrastinate? A little bit of both

Paper OR plastic? Paper

Glass half-full OR glass half-empty? half-full

Introvert OR extrovert? extrovert

Cats OR Dogs? Dogs

Morning person OR night person? Night person

What is your most embarrassing moment? My most embarrassing moment was during my freshmen year of high school while I was crossing the cross-walk and my stockings under my skirt started to slowly slide down while cars were waiting for me to cross. Needless to say, I never wore those stockings again!

If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, with whom would it be? I would like to trade places with a National Geographic Photographer to see what it would be like to travel the world and do what I love. 

What is one goal you have set for yourself and achieved? What is one goal that still remains to be achieved? During high school I worked very hard to graduate in the 10% of my class and to give a speech at graduation. I felt like I had achieved a major goal on my graduation day. One goal that still remains is to study abroad for a semester in college and experience different cultures. 

Sum yourself up in three words. Sisterly, Spontaneous and Considerate

What do you want to be when you grow up and why? I can not imagine myself doing just one thing when I grow up. I would like to be a business-woman, a photographer, friend, wife, mother and a world traveler. But most of all, I would like to be happy when I grow up. 

Describe your single-most favorite moment from your Distinguished Young Women experience. My favorite part of going to Nationals this summer was enjoying my host family. The fact that the girls stay with people from the community really shows what the organization is all about. A memorable moment was staying up late watching mermaid videos with my host-sister Sarah. I will never forget the Finnorn Family and I am sure they will remain in my life. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Get to know Madeline Powell - Distinguished Young Woman of Alabama 2014

Name: Madeline Powell    
Age: 18
Hometown: Birmingham, AL
College: University of Alabama
Major: Biology, Pre-Med

What is your favorite food? I love anything chocolate that will satisfy my enormous sweet tooth.

What is your favorite TV Show? Grey’s Anatomy is my current addiction. I’ve started re-watching the entire series on Netflix, and that occupies a lot of my free time.

What is your favorite Olympic Sport? I get so excited to watch Olympic Gymnastics. The amazing physical feats these girls perform are so fascinating to watch, and I love getting into it with my family.

What is the current #1 most played song on your iPod? "No Good in Goodbye" by The Script, which is my favorite band by the way!

What is your favorite time of year? Always Autumn! Leaves changing, cooler weather, scarves and boots season all make for a very happy and content Madeline.

Plan Ahead or Procrastinate? I feel a small amount of shame to admit that I am much more likely to procrastinate, but as I’ve entered college, I need to plan my assignments more often. Even so, I always plan to procrastinate.

Paper or Plastic? Paper…I guess.

Glass half-full or half empty? Always half full. I’m a strong believer that “happiness is in the heart, not in the circumstances.”

Introvert or Extrovert? I’m a solid mixture in between! I need to be around my friends, and I love meeting new people, but I also need plenty of my alone time.

Cats or Dogs? Dogs!! I have a doggy named Beau, and my brother has two labrodoodles that I claim as my own, Calvin and Ralph. I love them so much, and they never fail to make my life happier.

Morning Person or Night Person? I’m always a night person, and it takes a fair amount of effort and several alarms to get me up in the morning.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you absolutely need for survival? If I were trapped on a desert island, I would bring my sister (if I could count her as a thing), my phone, and a lifetime supply of Quest bars. I would need my sister for emotional support and because she usually makes wherever I am a much happier place. I would need my phone hopefully to call for help but mostly because it holds all my music, and I could amuse myself for days singing and dancing along to the music on my phone. The quest bars are to eat, of course. They’re strangely addicting protein bars that are delicious but still mostly healthy for you.

What would we find in your refrigerator right now? If you were to check my tiny refrigerator, you would find a strawberry yogurt, three cookies & cream Hershey bars, and what little is left of a bag of dove chocolates. I already mentioned my sweet tooth, and the chocolate is for my random treats and/or cravings. I eat one piece about every day as a treat, and I love it! You would also find my lovely roommate Giulia’s three bottles of orange juice and one Dr. Pepper. We don’t eat meals in our dorm room, so we don’t keep much food there.

If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, with whom would it be? If I could trade places with any one person, it would have to be Tanya Burr. Most of you have probably never heard of her, but she is a British beauty blogger and YouTuber. I’ve followed her blogs and videos for a very long time, and her presence has allowed her to sit front row at London Fashion Week, be featured in a campaign for Mulberry, and start her own make-up line. I find her life fascinating and totally different from mine, so I would love to get to experience her world for a day.

What is the one thing you wish someone had told you about college life that you had to find out on your own? One thing I wish someone had told me about college life that I had to find out on my own is that college is not always fun. Placing yourself in an entirely new environment is a large adjustment for any person. Emotionally it takes a toll on a person, and that’s okay. It’s okay to feel lonely, stressed, or homesick, and everybody does to some degree. All of these emotions are a normal part of adjusting to a new life, but the fun parts will always outweigh the not so fun parts in the end.

Sum yourself up in three words. I’m going to give three words to describe myself, but I don’t want to give any explanation. I think it’s fun to let the words speak for themselves.
determined, curious, and compassionate

Describe your single-most favorite moment from your Distinguished Young Women experience. Distinguished Young Woman was a bit of a stretch for me as it was outside of my comfort zone, but it was also simultaneously the perfect program for the young woman that I am. I had never danced alone on stage before my local program. I have been performing all of my life in recitals and dance team competitions but never by myself. Needless to say, I was nervous about performing my talent. I picked out the song and had my favorite dance teacher choreograph the piece in plenty of time so that I had ample time to practice and perfect my talent. However, the very first time I performed my dance for judges, I fell. I fell hard and flat on my bottom. Whether it was the too bright spotlight, the bad surface I was dancing on, or simply my mistake, I was on the floor. alone. on stage. It’s all a blur for me what happened from that point until I walked off the stage. I remember thinking, “I have got to stand up off this stage! I have got to get back up!” I remember rolling on the ground, fanning my legs and standing up like an Olympic gymnast who just nailed her vault with both arms in the air. No part of what I did was choreographed; I just did whatever popped into my head at that moment of panic.

I ran off stage into the arms of my best friend just knowing I had ruined any chance I had of fulfilling my dream to become a Distinguished Young Woman. As that night went on, I had newfound determination as I competed in the other phases of competition.  I realized that night that I was mostly mad because I wanted to prove to myself that I could complete a solo dance. I resolved that I only wanted a second chance in the finals to perform my talent, but only to prove to myself that I could do it. To prove to myself that I could stand on my own and more importantly, stand back up when I had fallen. I got my second chance the next night, and while I still had a few mistakes, I finished without anything major. Later that night, I was named the Distinguished Young Woman of Shelby County in Alabama. I had proven to myself that I could over come the obstacles, and believe it or not, this was not the greatest unforeseen obstacle in my Distinguished Young Woman experience. I had a unique Distinguished Young Woman experience that I could not be more thankful for, and hopefully I can share all of that experience here!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Get to know Jacqueline Wibowo - Distinguished Young Woman of California 2014

Jacqueline Wibowo
Age: 18
Hometown: San Diego, California
College: Stanford University
Major: Undeclared, Music Minor

What is your favorite food? Lobster

What is your favorite movie? Titanic

What is your favorite Christmas/holiday tradition? Singing Christmas Carols

What is the current #1 most played song on your iPod? "Your Love is Strong" by Jon Foreman

What is your favorite quote? “If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong place.”

Plan ahead OR procrastinate? TRY to plan ahead

Paper OR plastic? paper – let’s take care of our earth!

Glass half-full OR glass half-empty? half-full

Introvert OR extrovert? a more extroverted introvert

Cats OR Dogs? dogs

Morning person OR night person? night person

What would we find in your refrigerator right now? I actually just got a fridge for my roommate and I. It’s sitting in our dorm room with Stouffer’s French Bread Pizzas and Hot Pockets, some of the best late night snacks there are.

What is your biggest fear? My biggest fear is losing people who are close to me. Whether it be my friends, family, or even just acquaintances, I truly believe that each person in my life has affected me in one way or another. Thinking about living without them is the scariest thought.

What is the one thing you wish someone had told you about college life that you had to find out on your own? That getting into college really is just the beginning. I think you spend so much time in high school thinking about how to get into college, and don’t realize that there is so much more than just getting that acceptance letter. It helps to know what direction you want to go in as far as your studies, and to do your research so that you can pick a few good extracurriculars rather than just stacking on a ton. A college club takes the same amount of time as about three high school clubs, so keep that in mind!

What is one goal you have set for yourself and achieved? What is one goal that still remains to be achieved? As a child I was extremely shy and was embarrassed to try new things, so I missed out on a lot of opportunities. The summer before high school started, I promised myself to be more extroverted and to open myself up, even if it made me uncomfortable at first. I’m so happy I did, because I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for that decision; in fact, if it weren’t for that, I would never have found Distinguished Young Women!

One goal that still remains to be achieved is having more faith in myself. College is definitely a humbling experience. You’re surrounded by so many brilliant minds, and it’s easy to get into a cycle of comparing yourself to others. However, I need to constantly remind myself that everyone is on a different path, and that I can find success in my own way. Even though some people can handle more activities than others, no one can do everything. One of the greatest pieces of advice I received recently came from one of my professors, Dr. Kate Norako. She told me that every now and then you have to ask yourself, “If I was as hard on other people as I was on myself, how would others perceive me?” If the answer is that you would come off as insensitive or even mean, then that’s a good sign that you’re being too mean to yourself!

Sum yourself up in three words. Ambitious, Sincere, Loving

Describe your single-most favorite moment from your Distinguished Young Women experience. Two words: the people. If you want to feel more loved than you have ever felt in your life, participate in Distinguished Young Women. Whether it be the other girls who I competed with, the sponsors, the host families – everyone from local, state, and nationals – I’ve never felt so close to a group of people in just a short amount of time. The girls are the brightest and most talented in the nation, and just knowing that I am part of such a sisterhood is the most comforting thing in the world. Whenever I feel like I can’t do something or that life is simply getting too stressful, it’s the people I’ve met through Distinguished Young Women that I reach out to first.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Get to know Brooke Rucker - Distinguished Young Woman of America for 2014

Name: Brooke Rucker        
Age: 18
Hometown: Cartersville, GA
College: Florida State University
Major: Dance

What is your favorite food? Chinese

What is your favorite TV show? Switched at Birth

What is your favorite movie? Finding Nemo

What is your favorite Olympic sport? Figure Skating

What is your favorite time of year? Christmas season

Plan ahead OR procrastinate? Procrastinate

Paper OR plastic? Plastic

Glass half-full OR glass half-empty? half full

Introvert OR extrovert? introvert

Cats OR Dogs? dogs

Morning person OR night person? night person

If you could be any color crayon, what would you be and why? Blue because it’s my favorite color

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you absolutely need for survival? My phone, my dog, and a book

What would we find in your refrigerator right now? Pineapples, mountain dew, leftover Olive Garden, yogurt, milk, sandwiches, coffee, orange juice

 If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, with whom would it be? Beyonce

What is your biggest fear? Failure

Describe your single-most favorite moment from your Distinguished Young Women experience. 

My favorite experience has been getting to know all of the girls. At each level, I was able to bond with them and form friendships that still exist today. The girls that you meet through this program are like none other, and I’m fortunate that this program has introduced me to them.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

UNsocial Media - by Mackenzie

We live in a technological world.  Literally.  I don’t just mean we have technology; I mean we are dependent on technology.  Think about it…when was the last time you went somewhere without your cell phone?  How long has it been since you've gone a day without using your computer?  Have you ever gone a week without watching TV?  Exactly!

Technology has become an integral part of our lives.  We depend upon it for communication, research, and even school.  I realize the irony of this blog since you have to use technology to read it, but hopefully you will see my point.

A few days ago, I watched a video (link posted at the end of my blog) about a young man who nearly misses a chance meeting with his Soul Mate—and thus his entire future—because he was too busy looking at his phone.  The video really caught me off-guard and caused me to question my actions.  How often do I pull out my phone to get directions instead of asking someone for help?  ALL the time.  When was the last time I talked to people while sitting in a waiting room instead of checking social media?  Never!  When do I go to a library to study instead of just looking up everything I need to know on my computer in my dorm room?  Very rarely.

What if (like the video) my future husband could have been the person to give me directions?  What if the person sitting next to me in the waiting room became my best friend?  What if the librarian who helped me became my mentor?  If I let technology consume my life, all of these potential relationships could be missed.

So I am resolved to try using my cell phone as little as possible, to study in public places with just a pen, textbook, and loose-leaf paper, and to read a book instead of watching Netflix. I challenge you to do the same thing!  I know it might seem “old fashioned,” but just try it!  You never know whom you might meet or what you might learn by relying a little less on technology and a little more on books and face-to-face communication. 

Mackenzie Ross is a college freshman at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Political Science. Originally from Meridian, MississippiMackenzie was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Mississippi for 2013. Learn more about Mackenzie here!

The Small Things – by Sarah

Slow down. Please. And notice the small things.

College is teaching me a lot.  I'm learning about my interests.  I'm learning about the type of life I want to have (even though I haven't quite figured that one out yet.)  I'm learning information I'll need in my career.  I'm learning how to function on my own.  But something else I've learned this year has been just as important: to slow down and take it all in.  Notice the small things.

Sometimes, I'll sit in the cafeteria with my friends and talk with them as the volume in the room continues to rise as it gets more and more crowded.  I've realized, however, that I can learn a lot more about them and what's going on in their lives if I just stop talking, sit back, and listen.  My friends sometimes ask if something is wrong since I'm not talking, but I simply tell them, "I'm just observing."  I'm seeing how people interact.  I'm seeing how friends greet each other.  I'm seeing the look on each of my friends' faces as they tell stories about their day, and this helps me figure out what they're really feeling.  I'm just noticing the small things.

I carry my cell phone with me everywhere I go, and the first few months of school I was like every other college student whose face was looking down at the screen while walking to class or while eating with friends.  So I stopped.  I made an effort to put the phone down, sometimes even leaving it in my room (whoa!), and I began to notice the small things.  The way the ice clung to the orange leaves that stayed on the trees into the winter.  The way my friend's face lit up when she saw her friend from home walk into the student center.  The way someone started dancing in her chair in the cafĂ© when her favorite song came on the radio, not caring who was judging her lip syncing abilities.  I make an effort now to look up from my phone, my book, or my schoolwork.  I'm just noticing the small things.

After coming home from college, I've realized that noticing the small things makes being home even better.  I had forgotten how much my dog loved attention and how she bathes people with kisses.  I had missed seeing my grandparents argue over where they put the telephone but then still kissing each other goodnight as they have for fifty-two years.  I've remembered how I love summer rain and how walking out on the driveway and dancing in the pouring down rain makes me so happy! I've gotten to finally sit down and have hour-long conversations face-to-face with my mom and appreciating her advice.  I'm noticing the small things.

I know this post is simple, but that's the point.  There is so much stress in our lives. There is so much rushing, so much worrying about where we're going and how we're going to get there.  Slow down every once in a while and remember what makes you happy.  Notice the small things with me.

Sarah Fuller is a college freshman at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania majoring in Early Childhood Education & Special Education. Originally from Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, Sarah was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Pennsylvania for 2013. Learn more about Sarah here!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Be Your Best Self - by Katie

I believe that as little girls we all have role models that we look up to and wish to someday be like. My hero was distinguished in every way and taught me to be my best self, long before I even knew about the Distinguished Young Women program. Here is my Be Your Best Self tribute to her.

“There must be something there that wasn’t there before,” Belle uttered as she watched the Beast show compassion and vulnerability, emotions she witnessed him express for the very first time. As a child I repeatedly watched my favorite movie, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. I was in awe of Belle and her persistent empathy for, and acceptance of others. I was amazed that she was able to stay true to herself and love the Beast, despite his startling appearance. Belle was an incredible role model for me, and as a little girl I dreamed of being a princess just like her. I didn’t realize it then, but Belle was showing me how important, rewarding, and inspiring it is to “Be Your Best Self”.   
Belle’s attitude towards her family and circumstances instilled compassion and gratitude in me. She displays unconditional love when she sacrifices herself as a prisoner to the Beast to replace her sick father, imprisoned for trespassing. She learns that as circumstances change, she too must change. After becoming a prisoner to the castle, she chooses to accept her sentence and find inner happiness in her new home.

Belle taught me to dig deep beyond the surface of others to find the good within them. She exemplifies this lesson when she learns to accept the Beast. Belle’s empathy toward the Beast is especially evident when she defends him to the townspeople. She is seen as peculiar, and the Beast is seen as a monster, but she chooses to uphold her beliefs. She proclaims the Beast is kind and gentle, and then comforts him when he appears to be dying, ultimately professing her love for him. I didn’t know it at the time, but Belle was modeling to me to be responsible.

Belle’s love of books inspired me to read and to be studious. She has a tremendous vocabulary, probably due to her constant reading.  Belle is able to pull words off the top of her head and use them in the correct context to make a point or tell a fact, such as “provincial” or “primeval”. Like Belle, I put great emphasis on learning. Excelling academically is very important to me, so I am extremely dedicated to my studies. I may have to work harder or study longer than others to grasp a concept, but I devote as many hours as it takes to be the very best student possible. 

I always thought of Belle as a beautiful princess, never considering how physically fit and healthy she is. She is able to ride a horse at tremendous speeds, and navigate herself through crowded streets without colliding, all the while reading a book! Being fit is something that is very important to me. Recent studies show that 20% of American children are obese. Psychologically and physically, obesity is an issue that can be resolved with an increase in activity and awareness. This is just one of the reasons I have set a goal to work in the pediatric area of sports medicine. I can’t wait to encourage young people to work to achieve their goals in becoming their best selves. Thank you Belle for encouraging me to be ambitious!

I endeavor to lead others with compassion and courage, just as Belle does. As a volunteer, I frequently encounter people who are less fortunate. I accept people who are unemployed and homeless or who need rehabilitation from drug and alcohol abuse. The people I serve are not beasts of the world, but real people who need assistance. I enjoy getting to know people from all backgrounds and find incredible value in their stories.

Like Belle, I feel a sense of personal obligation to my community. By being involved, I strive to help the people find a renewed sense of happiness and security within themselves just as Belle learned to do. 

Belle is a strong young woman whose beliefs guide her actions, which is why I adored her so much as a little girl. Participating in the Distinguished Young Women Program and considering what it means to “Be Your Best Self”, I feel honored to be surrounded by other young women who have the same hopes, dreams and qualities as I do, and are working just as hard as I am to make a difference in the world. I hope that we can all display the elements of the Be Your Best Self program and influence young girls in the same way that Belle inspired me. 
The days are now gone that I slip into my yellow ball gown, plastic slippers, and shiny crown, but I will always embody Belle’s spirit and now realize that by being my best self, I will forever be a princess. 

Katie Wilkinson is a college freshman at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California majoring in Sports Medicine and minoring in Communications. Originally from Chandler, Arizona, Katie was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Arizona for 2013. Learn more about Katie here!