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Devoted to Distinguished Young Women

SAT. | 03-05-22 | FEATURES

     According to Olivia Salter, co-chairman of the Pitt County Distinguished Young Women (DYW) program for the past 25 years, DYW is a scholarship program for high school girls in the 11th grade that emphasizes girls being their best selves. By participating in this program, girls have the opportunity to earn scholarship money, better themselves, push themselves to try new things, build confidence and gain leadership skills.

      Salter’s love for and dedication to the DYW program comes from personal experience.

     “I was involved with the program when I was a junior in high school,” Salter said. “The program and the volunteers had a


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huge impact on my life at that time and continued to through college, graduate school and becoming an adult.”

     Those participating in DYW compete in various categories.

     “Scholarship opportunities are based on the whole person: interview, scholastics, talent, fitness and self-expression,” Salter said.

     Many Rose alumni are former Distinguished Young Women of Pitt County and Greenville, including Lucy Ogle (2021), Kemany Ullah (2020), and Laura Bauza (2016). Martha Bennett, former Rampant Lines Editor in Chief, also won in 2016 and went on to win the Distinguished Young Women of North Carolina.

Rose juniors Peyton Cowin and Brielle McGillicuddy are currently involved in the program.

Cowin and McGillicuddy have known about the DYW program from a young age through the studio in which they take dance lessons: North Carolina Academy of Dance Arts (NCADA).

     “Before I was of the age to compete in DYW, I watched in the audience since a lot of the girls at [NCADA] competed in it,” Cowin said. “Around the age of 12 I started performing in [DYW] as entertainment fillers with my dance studio.”

     Cowin and McGillicuddy have formed amazing relationships with all the girls competing in DYW and are thoroughly enjoying the experience.

     “It's less about scholarships and more about the girls coming together as a group to grow and push one another to be your best self,” McGillicuddy said.

     The girls began preparing for the program in January. Since Cowin and McGillicuddy have been dancing since they were three, they both decided to perform a dance as their talent. Cowin will be performing a jazz on pointe dance.

     “[Jazz on pointe] is different; it's not something you see a lot as a talent,” Cowin said. “A lot of people do [a] dance, but I wanted to add my own flair to it.”

      McGillicuddy will be performing a lyrical dance, as it has always been her favorite style of dance.

      “I love how it shows emotion through the dance,” McGillicuddy said.

      A distinguished young woman holds a multitude of responsibilities.

      “I would have to present myself as a role model to all the future girls, use my experiences to help other girls going through the program, help out in the community and spread the word and mission of DYW,” Cowin said.

     Cowin believes that many people have a misconception about DYW. While she was lucky enough to grow up dancing in a studio that is heavily involved in DYW, some girls don’t have that experience or opportunity.

     “Most people just think it's a pageant when it's much more than that,” Cowin said. “Yeah, you get to wear a pretty dress on stage, but most of it is about bettering yourself.”

     McGillicuddy recognizes the responsibilities that come with participating in DYW, but believes they add to the many benefits of the program. 

     “If anyone is thinking about joining [the program], I say do it,” McGillicuddy said. “It's a great program that has given me many lasting lessons and friendships.”

      The DYW program will be held on March 26th at D.H. Conley High School. Tickets can be purchased from a participant or at It's Sew Wright in Arlington Village.

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