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County DYW shares experience of program

Covington County Distinguished Young Women (DYW) winner shares her experience with the program.

Cameron Stephens is the current Covington County Distinguished Young Woman. Past DYW winners have toured the schools within their county and given speeches about the benefits of participating in DYW.

“I was supposed to go around to the schools in Covington County and give a speech about why young girls should do DYW,” said Stephens. “I can’t do that now—obviously, with everything going on right now—but I still wanted to share my experience [with DYW].”

“I wanted to appeal to the personal experience you get from DYW and not so much the scholarship side,” said Stephens. “You know, not everyone that does DYW gets money, but everyone does get an experience and memories that last for a lifetime.”

“This program is meant to help young women discover who they are and to help them become confident in that person. It’s for the girls with stories to tell and the ones that want to use their personal experience to reach others.”

“I was really insecure before, and DYW is all about learning who you are and teaching you to express it,” said Stephens. “If you’re a young girl, it [DYW] is a great way to gain confidence. You learn how to be confident and how to think for yourself. I became confident in my heart, in my personality, and what I could offer the world.”

DYW, formerly known as America’s Young Miss, is a national scholarship program based either in individual counties or states’ at-large programs that promote and reward scholarship, leadership, and talent in young women.

Winners of the county level competition go on to the state level and the national level from there.

Stephens placed in both the scholastic and interview portions in the county competition last summer.

“I didn’t place in anything in [the] State [competition], but the experience was awesome. The friendships I made were my prize, and I’m actually rooming with two of my friends I made from DYW when we start school,” said Stephens.

Stephens plans to attend Auburn University once she graduates from Straughn High School and will be majoring in the biomedical field and minoring in Spanish.

Stephens encourages future participants to be ambitious and chase their dreams.

“DYW has become less popular over the years, and I have struggled to find the reason why, but now I know,” said Stephens. “It is because every other girl is the same way I was a year ago, scared. But you have to stop letting fear define you. Personally, I have to remind myself that the only boundaries placed on me are the ones I place on myself.”

“Take control of your own life,” said Stephens. “Do not let people tell you what you are capable of, and if they do, prove them wrong.”