Madelyn Smith was named the 2022 Distinguished Young Woman on Thursday on the stage at Pocatello High School in front of about 300 people. She says she was surprised.
”It was unbelievable,” the Pocatello resident said afterward. “I mean, I could have seen any of the girls winning. They were all so amazing.”
The 16-year-old junior at Pocatello High School first got interested in the Distinguished Young Women program because her mother and her older sisters and many of her friends had been involved in the event.
She feels like she’s grown in confidence and self-esteem and maturity.
”It’s amazing the lessons you learn here,” she said. “I guarantee that I’ll remember them forever.”
One benefit she points to in particular is the interview portion of the event and its impact.
”I feel like I’m just more confident in myself and really sure-footed,” she said.
The 16-year-old attends Pocatello High School and wants to be a professional dancer and dance instructor.
The event also features college scholarships for those who receive one of many awards available to participants.
”I just really encourage everyone else to do it and just thank everyone else who helped me get to where I am,” she said.
Smith has lived in Pocatello her whole life except for two years when her father’s job took them to Belgium.
She encourages other girls to enter the Distinguished Young Women program.
”There are so many experiences — it’s amazing,” she said. “You learn these great life skills and meet the most amazing friends ever and it’s just really great.”
The event included 13 girls from three high schools who competed in five categories.
Those categories and the percent of the total score they represent are: interview, 25%; scholastic, 25%; talent, 20%; fitness, 15%; and self-expression, 15%.
The interview awards went to Susan Sterner and Kimberly Miller. The scholastics awards went to Abigail Ralphs and Ariana Long.
Talent was awarded to Madelyn Smith and Elizabeth Wilkes. The fitness awards went to Madelyn Smith and Abigail Ralphs.
Madelyn Smith and Marcy Stratford won the awards for self-expression.
The two other categories that were awarded are Be Your Best Self and Spirit of Distinguished Young Women.
The Be Your Best Self award went to Baylee Adams. The Spirit of Distinguished Young Women award went to Elizabeth Wilkes.
The second runner up went to Abigail Ralphs and first runner up went to Elizabeth Wilkes.
Madelyn Smith will go on to compete in the Distinguished Young Women of Idaho program in Idaho Falls on Oct. 1-2.
Local program chair Kayla Carter said the Distinguished Young Women scholarship program highlights well-rounded young women who have excelled in the classroom, been active in extracurricular activities, developed a performing talent, asserted leadership among peers and made a commitment to her community.
Founded in 1958, Distinguished Young Women is the largest and oldest national scholarship program for high school girls according to its website at distinguishedyw.org/about/.