My Experiences with DYWIL


Melody Colonel, Editor

As some people know, in March of last year I entered in a scholarship competition called the Distinguished Young Women program. This national competition offers millions of dollars in scholarships every year to high school aged girls. In the beginning, I was not very confident in myself or this program. With COVID-19 arising in the Chicago area, where the Illinois branch is centered, the local competitions were switched to virtual formats.

In early March I sent audition videos to the program, waiting until I knew what was next. For the local round of competition, I had to submit multiple videos of me performing a talent and completing part of a fitness routine. Soon I found out that I was going to be a state finalist in the program, qualifying me for thousands of dollars in scholarships. I was very shocked.

The state level competition was supposed to take place in Tinley Park, a suburb outside of Chicago, in mid July. I was supposed to be there for 4 days, and on the fourth day, the final showcase would take place. There is usually a large audience. But, due to COVID-19 the state level competition was pushed farther and farther back in hopes of being able to have a live showcase. This was not the case, for the finals, I had to submit multiple videos for a majority of the events in the competition. I was lucky enough to be able to travel to Tinley Park for one day to record a small part of the showcase and meet the other participants. I went in being very scared of what was to come, I was expecting a group of girls who were all prepared to kill to win.

That was far from the truth. I met some of the sweetest girls ever. Everyone was so supportive of one another! It was so so nice. While we were masked and distanced the entire time, we still were able to bond with one another. What I would give to get all of us together again! I was a scholarship winner through this program. It is possible for a girl from Southern Illinois to do well in a competition typically won by girls from the Chicago and its suburbs.

Applications are open for this years competition. To enter you must be a junior in high school and fill out the application on the DYW website. Please, if you have questions, don’t be afraid to find me in the halls and ask!