Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Hey There! I know with the holiday season just around the corner everyone is wondering what to put on their Black Friday shopping lists. Well, this year there are absolutely five things you must put on your gift list, and here are what they are:
    I know what you must be thinking. Connect Four? I played that game when I was in elementary school. This, however, is not a game of matching colored checkers in patterns. This is a pledge. A pledge stating that you will make an effort to CONNECT with your family at least FOUR times throughout the holiday season. When in Alabama for the Distinguished Young Women program, I learned something new. I learned that sometimes the best way to connect to another individual is by disconnecting from my phone. I was able to enjoy my time with my little sister Amelia and little brother Thomas a lot more than my actual siblings because I did not have my phone to use twenty-four hours of the day. This got me thinking: How much quality time do I really spend with my family? This year I challenge you to take some time away from yourself and spend it with the people you are thankful for.
  • C.A.R
    Even though seeing a shiny new Mercedes Benz in the driveway would be amazing, that is not what this shopping list item means. The letters in car actually stand for CARING AT RANDOM, also known as RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS. This holiday season why don’t you try to give back to those who give to you? Sometimes, a smile is the best present a person can receive for Christmas. My second challenge for you this year is to randomly do something to make someone else smile! Throughout my years as a dancer, we would always go out and perform for our community, in order to show our appreciation. We did not get paid or get rewards, but we did get to share memories with other members of our community, which was the best present we could have received!
    Clothes. Black Friday Shopping would be nothing without hitting the malls in search of the hottest fashions. However, lets take this opportunity to clear out the closet and get A NEW LOOK on life! This Christmas try something new! Instead of trying on all of your brand new shoes, put yourself in the shoes of someone else. Life is all about perspective, and sometimes the picture needs a couple points a view to see the whole image. This Christmas why not see life on the other side and take the time to volunteer at a soup kitchen or help put gift baskets together for children who wont receive a “visit from Santa” this year. Pinkerton Academy Student Council was one of my favorite clubs in high school because of their generosity to the community. They participated in a number of holiday based charities the helped provide to the less fortunate. We took a look at the other side of life and helped turn it around!
    This cute little electronic game allows you to guess a person based on their catch phrase.  However, there is one CATCH PHRASE that everyone should embrace this time of year: Thank You! This is the time of year about giving thanks to those who do so much for you. During this holiday season, remember your manners and say thank you for even the littlest of actions. There is nothing in the world that somebody must do for you, but there are things that they would like to do; which is why we thank them for their actions. If there were one person I could say thank you to more, it would be my mom Glenna. She has given up the best years of her life to raise me. She spent hours driving me to and from dance, watching dance competitions, feeding me, housing me, clothing me and sending me to college. If it were not for her generosity, I would not be where I am today. Therefore share the love this holiday season and share your appreciation to those who appreciate you.
    This item is simply to lead your way to the bright future ahead of you :-)
This Black Friday why not rethink your shopping cart? There are so many things in this world that we do not notice, and we should! Instead of materials, try to make memories this holiday season.

Stay Distinguished,
Josie Marie Lydick

Josie Lydick is a college freshman at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York majoring in Psychology. Originally from Derry, New Hampshire, Josie was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of New Hampshire for 2014. Learn more about Josie here!

What to Expect When You’re Expecting (Or Not!) - by Amy

Sometimes, I get ahead of myself. But doesn’t everybody? I remember in high school walking in on a Monday morning already feeling overwhelmed, taking a deep breath, and thinking, “Ok. Just five days. I can do that.”

And sure, I always made it, but thinking that way should be a last resort. Looking back, I most value the little moments in class or in the halls just talking and laughing with friends, and to look ahead at the week with tunnel vision, with rigid expectations of what it has to offer, is to discount all of that. Time is going to pass either way, so we might as well enjoy it. And who knows what might happen along the way?

A lot of the time, it pays to be prepared. Thinking ahead, doing your research, double- and triple-checking, that’s all well and good. But sometimes, letting yourself go into something blind allows you to value an experience in an altogether different way. It’s not about being responsible or not; it’s just a little experiment into perspective.

Take this year, for example. I’m currently on a nine month program in Salvador, Brazil. In my interview with the directors last June, I ended up admitting that, in a lot of ways, I didn’t know what I was signing myself up for. And now, having spent two months here (and two days with my new host family), I realize that I knew even less than I thought I did. Ha. More on that later.

I realize that that isn’t everyone’s style, but even signing up for my Distinguished Young Women state program last year was a completely last minute decision, and one that led to a pretty huge experience. I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into, and if any of a hundred things hadn’t been just so—the conveniently short drive, the unexpected date change, the random glance at a stack of newspapers almost a year earlier—well, I wouldn’t know what would have happened, now would I?

On top of that, after the low-key New Jersey program, I was comically unprepared for the extravaganza that is National Finals. It was definitely unlike anything I had ever experienced before, and in my mind, I was just going along for the ride. I didn’t even tell my friends what I was up to because—well, in part because I didn’t really know, but also because I was still unsure about the whole thing.

Two weeks later, and I was already thinking about spreading the word for the next state program and coming back as a has-been.

Of course, there’s a whole bunch of stuff in the middle there, but I wouldn’t want to give any 2015 girls out there any spoilers. And here’s why.

Going in without expectations pushes you to take things for what they are, to keep an open mind and to make observations before making judgements. So much of the time, we’re disappointed not because something is bad, necessarily, but because, well, it’s different. It’s not what we were expecting. Like if you thought you were taking a big bite of pie, but it was actually quiche. In that moment, no matter your feelings on quiche, it just tastes distinctly and overwhelmingly of not-pie. And don’t all of life’s lessons boil down to quiche in the end, really?

In all seriousness, what I’m trying to say is don’t be afraid to put yourself in unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory. Commit to the experience and appreciate it for what it is. To me, the expectations simply to be surprised and to surprise myself are among the highest that I can have. Even if disaster ensues, I’d much rather learn that I don’t like something than look back with uncertainty and wonder if I might’ve.

Sorry this is all rather sentimental but listen up, kids, because this is REAL LIFE. Haha, just kidding.

Until next time,


Amy Liu is a college freshman at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey majoring in Chemical Engineering. Originally from Princeton, New JerseyAmy was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of New Jersey for 2014. Learn more about Amy here!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Top Ten Things to be Grateful for this Season - by Abbie

Whenever the word “Thanksgiving” comes to mind, we all obviously think of “giving thanks” for everything in our lives. So many times have I wrote a blessing on a turkey feather or exclaimed another in a circle of peers, but I truly think that there is much more to be thankful for than we initially assume.

Take a look at this list I have created in order to delve deeper into what blessings we repeatedly look over every single day.

  1. Family
    Okay, now I know this is a very popular and cliché answer to the question we get asked every November, but hear me out on this one. Ask yourself these questions: What does my family do for me? Where would I be without them? I don’t know about you, but I would be lost without my mom, dad, and my four beautiful sisters. It is the unconditional love that exists between the members of a family, which makes these relationships so incredible. I do nothing (literally nothing, most of the time) to benefit from the love, kindness, and generosity that all of my family members give me. But the fantastic thing is that they still love you anyways. How crazy? I have figured this out since I have moved to college- family is everything. Please do not take one moment for granted while you are with your family this holiday season! And also, do not be afraid to express your gratitude to them, whether in person, by letter, or a quick phone call. It will mean the world to them!
  2. Friendships 
    These are other relationships that go unnoticed and unappreciated all of the time. When was the last time you said “Thank you!” to your best friend for always texting you back or replying to your snap chats? I think this goes without saying, but our friends put up with a lot for us, and they still love us anyways. This season try to thank your friends with a simple note or hug to let them know that you really do care.
  3. Material Things
    It is quite ironic that this is usually the time when we start making our laundry lists of things we would like for Christmas. On Thanksgiving, my family actually has the tradition where we all bring our Christmas lists over to my grandparents’ house so that our relatives can look at them. Although Christmas presents are an amazing blessing, we should be so thankful for all of the small and large material items we have been given or bought ourselves. Where would you be without your iPhone? Or your warm sweatshirt? Or even your Camelbak water bottle? All of these things that we take for granted everyday are such a blessing for which we should be incredibly thankful!
  4. Knowledge and Education
    School. Usually that word turns all of us away in disgust, but we never really think about how lucky each of us is to be given this gift. Not only are we given the blessing of knowledge as humans from God, but in the United States we are able to develop that knowledge at school. In many countries, still, young woman are not able to go to school and have the opportunities you do. Remember (even while taking that math test you forgot to study for) how fortunate you are for education!
  5. A Peaceful Home
    I understand that your own home may not be peaceful (Believe me, with six women and one man in a house there is never a quiet or calm moment.), but that is not what I am talking about. Take a moment to understand how blessed you are to live where you do. Many people across the world are living in areas of poverty, mass destruction, and immoral chaos. Do not take this blessing lightly anymore. Instead, be thankful for every moment, even the most frustrating.

  6. Happiness and Laughter
    I do not think there is a greater gift than a smile. Especially during this time of year when those surround you you love, soak up every laugh and giggle you can. Be thankful for the happiness you are able to share with those around you, and share that with the world around you! You never know who needs a smile, and you could definitely brighten someone’s day by flashing those white sparkly teeth their way.
  7. Food and Health
    I am assuming that none of you have truly experienced extreme hunger like many children do in other countries. Although you may not like broccoli and squash, be mindful that the food you are given or the food you buy is keeping you strong and healthy. Especially during this holiday season, give extra thanks for the turkey, pumpkin pie, and other plentiful foods you eat!
  8. The Shining Sun
    I live in Missouri, so for those in the Midwest you understand how important the sunshine is this time of year. It may be below 20 degrees, but there is always hope that the sun will come out soon. I actually love the cold (when it is not windy, that is), but a little sun is always nice. Next time you feel the heat of the sun on your skin, be extra thankful for that warmth and soak it in for all it is worth!
  9. God’s Love
    I think this is the most important thing to be thankful for, because without the Lord’s love and forgiveness, where would we be? What would we have? There is no limit to His love. Remember that and share His love with everyone you meet. The joy of this Thanksgiving and Christmas season is because of Him and His abundant blessings!
  10. Thanksgiving Break
    Lastly, I think we can all agree that Thanksgiving Break is something every student looks forward to during this time of year. It is a great time to relax, give our minds a bit of rest, and spend time with our friends and family. Be thankful for this time, and do not waste it because soon it will be Monday again and you will be sitting in class.

I hope you all have a fantastic Thanksgiving season, and are able to share happiness and love with everyone around you!

Be thankful for FRIENDSHIPS and LAUGHTER! This is one of my favorite pictures from our Baccalaureate ceremony, because I am surrounded by some of my best friends and we all have a smile on our face. It captures our joy and love for one another perfectly!

Here I am enjoying my time with my parents at the State Specialty Party in Mobile, AL at the Distinguished Young Women Finals last year. I have been blessed with the most generous and selfless parents a girl (or 5) could ask for!

These are my wonderful sisters and I. Although I am definitely the shortest in this photo, I am actually the middle child. There is Halie, Erika, Alison, myself, and Audrianna. I cannot thank them enough for their unique personalities and beautiful generosity that they share with me every day!

Abbie Hebron is a college freshman at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri majoring in Dietetics. Originally from O'Fallon, MissouriAbbie was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Missouri for 2014. Learn more about Abbie here!