COLUMBIA CITY — As a little girl, Michaela Thomas, currently a senior at Columbia City High School, watched young women participate in the Distinguished Young Women (DYW) program, formerly known as Junior Miss.
“You wouldn’t think that something like that would help you discover who you are, but it did, it helped me,” said Thomas. “You develop confidence, and it makes you realize some of your strengths.”
A recruitment session for prospective participants of the 2013 DYW program has been scheduled for Thursday at 3:30 p.m.
Thomas, the winner of the 2012 program in Whitley County, will be at the recruitment session to speak and offer her own experiences about the program.
Program participation is open to all girls who are high school seniors and will graduate in 2013. Participants can either be a senior in one of the county’s three high schools, a resident of Whitley County but attending a school outside of Whitley County, a resident in another county but attending high school in one of Whitley County’s school districts or a high school senior that is being home schooled within Whitley County.
“Basically, we want every girl who is even a little bit interested to come because it’s the time when I’m going tell everyone about the program, and what’s going to be required,” said Thomas.
Prospective participants must attend the meeting before registering on the national web site, and the recruitment/orientation will be conducted by Pamela Thompson, co-coordinator of DYW of Whitley County.
Through her participation in the program, Thomas won $2,300, helping her to further her educational goals as she plans to attend the University of Indianapolis for Occupational Therapy.
On the local level, Thomas said her favorite part about the program was meeting the other participants in her own county. She is also keeping in contact with girls from the state competition she attended in Kokomo, where Thomas received the Spirit Award and the Scholastic Award.
“What I’ve been telling a lot of girls is it’s an experience that is really unlike any other in high school,” said Thomas. “Some people think it’s a pageant. It’s so much more than that.”
The recruitment meeting is in the board room of the Whitley County Community Foundation, 400 N. Whitley St., Columbia City. The session will last approximately one hour. Additional recruitment sessions can be scheduled by calling 244-7467.
The 48th production of DYW is set for Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. in the Newell Rice Auditorium of Columbia City High School. Admission is $10 per person.
There is no entry fee for participants, and they are not allowed to solicit sponsors or scholarship donors. The Board of Directors of Whitley County’s DYW program assume the responsibility of soliciting the scholarship money presented to the category winners.