Distinguished Young Women

Frederick County's Distinguished Young Women Award Recipients Set the Standard

Article by Rebecca Mitchell

Photography by Rebecca Mitchell Photography

Originally published in Frederick Lifestyle

Scholarship. Leadership. Talent. 

These are the three words displayed on the medallions worn by Emily Wang (Distinguished Young Woman of Southern Frederick County), Diya Jha (Distinguished Young Woman of Downtown Frederick), Shenali De Silva (Distinguished Young Woman of Northern Frederick County) and Daniella Bowie (Distinguished Young Woman of Urbana). Each of these ladies was awarded a $1,000 scholarship in the local Distinguished Young Women of Frederick County program in March and prepared to compete at the Maryland state level in July.  Established in 1958, Distinguished Young Women (DYW) is a national scholarship program aiming to reward and inspire hard-working young women and prepare them for a successful future. For years, Frederick County has hosted a local program and given local high school juniors the opportunity to earn scholarship money, improve their interview skills, meet other incredible young women and grow their confidence as they step into life ahead. This year, nine outstanding young women from across the county gathered virtually to demonstrate their achievements on March 19, 2022.

They excelled in the interview, scholastic, public speaking, fitness and talent categories and were all awarded scholarships.

The local program in Frederick is open for high school juniors each year, and it is free to participate. Not only are the participants given the experience of a live showcase to earn scholarships, they are also offered life skills training throughout the year to help them succeed. These include job-centered skills such as interview training, résumé development and social media etiquette, and life-centered skills including car maintenance, credit-building and tax advice.

Rebecca Mitchell, the chairperson for the local program, stated, “We not only want to encourage the young ladies in the skills they’ve already honed and give them as much scholarship money as possible, we want to make sure they feel confident going forward. There’s so much ahead of them; we want them to succeed in everything they set their mind to!”  

Mitchell herself participated in the program in high school and, because of how much it impacted her, she has been volunteering with the Frederick program for the last ten years. 

If one of these four local representatives is awarded the honor of Distinguished Young Woman of Maryland, they will go on to participate in the national program in Mobile, Alabama. There, they will meet outstanding young women from all around the country! They will also have the chance to win cash and in-kind tuition scholarships, and the award of “Distinguished Young Woman of America.”

“DYW of Frederick County has truly helped me become more confident in the person that I am,” says Shenali. “I’m so excited to represent Northern Frederick and meet the other representatives at the state program.” 

Emily shares, “I am so incredibly grateful for this wonderful opportunity that I have been given and I have had such an enriching experience so far! I cannot wait for the state program where I will be able to meet and get to know the other amazing representatives!” 

These four ladies will spend the year encouraging people throughout the county to “Be Your Best Self,” a life-skills program developed by Distinguished Young Women.  

“I’m extremely humbled and grateful to represent Downtown Frederick and identify with the five pillars that Distinguished Young Women program stands for - being healthy, ambitious, involved, responsible, and studious,” says Diya.  

Daniella explained, “I’m excited to be a part of the DYW sisterhood and start this new journey! I hope to promote what this organization has to offer to other girls and inspire them to try new things that will further them personally and academically!” 

Any upcoming high school juniors interested in participating can apply online. It’s FREE to participate in the program, and all participants are automatically eligible for hundreds of college-awarded scholarships, including a half-tuition scholarship at Hood College in Frederick and full-tuition scholarships across the country. DistinguishedYW.org

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