By: Ava Breemes
Hannah Spainhour, a senior here at Heritage High School, was named Distinguished Young Woman of Wake County on August 15th, 2021. The Distinguished Young Women (DYW) program is a non-profit organization that helps provide scholarships for high school girls that excel in academics, talent, and leadership. Hannah first became interested in the program when her great aunt sent her information about DYW. Hannah’s mom also encouraged her to get involved, as she had participated in the Junior Miss program in high school. Hannah was hesitant at first, but she was eager to win scholarships and thought this would be a great activity to participate in during the summer. After a few months of preparation, she was thrilled to receive the title of Distinguished Young Woman of Wake County after the local showcase. She received a total of $1,150 in cash scholarships, consisting of $750 for the title, $100 for fitness, $100 for talent, $100 for self-expression, and $100 for scholastics. Her hard work and commitment allowed her to move onto the State Program on January 21st, 2022.
To prepare for the showcase, she spent the week in Greensboro with her awesome host family and her roommate Kennedy, one of the fellow participants at DYW. The girls rehearsed 11-12 hours a day and got to know each other as the week went on, creating a strong sisterhood and helping ease some nerves. They played games and were provided with delicious meals during their downtime, including Mexican, Italian and barbecue. The girls worked on their group dance, practiced their talent sections, and prepared themselves to perform on the stage on Saturday.
The day of the competition had finally arrived! Hannah’s fanbase of around 30 of her closest friends and family traveled down to Greensboro as Hannah spent the day getting ready for her big moment. The pageant took place in The Carolina Theatre and started at 7:00PM. The theater was filled with supporters of the 13 girls who were anxiously awaiting to go onstage and complete their opening group dance. Afterwards, they showed their athleticism with a fitness routine, filled with cardio, core work, and flexibility. Hannah maintained a smile on her face as she completed this difficult routine. Next, the girls showed off their best talents that they had practiced for months. Hannah presented her strength, agility, and grace in a sassy jazz dance to “Beggin’” by Måneskin. One of her close friends, Hailey Costar, worked to help her choreograph this routine that impressed the audience and judges. Her dance excited the crowd with her advanced turn sequence, spectacular jumps, and great facial expressions. The last part of the show was the self-expression portion, where the participants had to answer the question of “who was the missing puzzle piece of their life?”. Hannah’s answer was sentimental and well-spoken, as she dedicated this answer to her two younger sisters, Sara and Julia. She emphasized the importance of their bond and how much she loves them. She hopes that they will take part in the Distinguished Young Women program when they are eligible. This concluded the public portion of the showcase, but the judges also took other factors into consideration. Earlier in the day, Hannah had completed a ten minute interview where she answered 12 questions based on her resume and online portfolio. The judges then carefully reviewed each transcript, analyzing the grades, class rank, and academic achievement of each girl. These two factors would also determine who would win scholarships and the overall title of Distinguished Young Woman.
The big moment was finally here! Hannah stood onstage surrounded by her 12 new friends as they waited for the scholarships to be presented. “My whole leg was shaking, I was so nervous” said Hannah as she recalled her anxious feelings. Hannah received scholarships for Overall Fitness for $500, Preliminary Talent for $300, Preliminary Interview for $300, Preliminary Scholastics for $300, and the Spirit Award for $500! This award was extra special to Hannah because her mom also won this award when she participated in the Junior Miss program in high school. Hannah was the First Runner Up and received $6,650 total scholarships combined from the state and local programs.
As Hannah looks back on her experience, she was glad she had this opportunity and is thankful for the friendships and connections she made. “It was really great because we got to bond about dance and work together,” shared Hannah, “It didn’t even feel like we were competing against each other on Saturday, it felt like a team”. She recommends this program to any rising seniors because it’s a great way to win scholarships for college at no cost. If you have any questions, reach out to Hannah or check out the Distinguished Young Women website at https://distinguishedyw.org/.
Hannah, Heritage is so proud of your accomplishments, and we are excited to see the great things you do in the future. We love you!