Distinguished Young Women Program of 2015


This past weekend, Maddie Steen became one of the Distinguished Young Women of Charleston County! This year, the Class of 2016 participated in the Distinguished Young Women program. Following a meeting about the program back in the Fall, AMHS juniors Phoebe Rudolph, Maddie Steen, Janae Bowman, and Elle Johnson, signed up for the program and dedicated every single weekend of January and February preparing to compete. At the Wando Auditorium this past Sunday, the on-stage portion of the program took place. The competition itself is split up into five categories, Scholastics, Interview, Talent, Fitness, and Self-Expression. The Scholastics and Interview portions were judged prior to the competition day, but all of the other sections took place on-stage. The performance opened with a dance number featuring the three previous winners from the Charleston area, including AMHS senior Colleen Christensen. Featuring girls from all over Charleston County, the program highlighted a range of talent. The Magnet representitives were particularly diverse, with Phoebe step dancing, Maddie singing and playing the guitar to a cover of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space,” Janae speed grafitti-ing, and Elle speed painting. Meanwhile, the Self-Expression category warranted the question: “Besides a person, what is the thing you are most grateful for?” that the girls had been given a week prior to the competition. The Fitness section featured the girls doing a dance workout routine in order to highlight the Distinguished Young Women’s motto of Be Your Best Self, in particular the “Be Healthy” aspect. By the end of the competition, the Magnet girls had received a plethora of awards, particularly Maddie Steen.

Maddie Steen (left) along with the other Distinguished Young Women of Charleston County winners

Maddie won the Overall Fitness award, the Be Your Best Self award, and the Overall Self-Expression award, in addition to being an Overall Winner. This prestigious award is only given to three of the participants, and requires Maddie to attend to the state level of Distinguished Young Women competition. About the competition, Maddie said, “It taught us a lot of skills, like interviewing, public speaking, and being confident in your own skin. I improved skills that I had that I wasn’t too solid in and made new friends.” Elle Johnson won, too, taking home the Scholastics award. Overall, the girls did amazingly and represented Magnet well.

The Distinguished Young Women program was founded in 1958, making it the oldest and biggest national scholarship program for high school girls. In the late 1920’s, down in Mobile, Alabama, the Junior Chamber of Commerce started up an annual spring floral program to promote city beautification projects and revere the beautiful azaleas found throughout Mobile. Every year, the program selected a young woman to represent the event. By 1957, young women from Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi were competing in the “Azalearama Pageant,” and its popularity kept growing. Eventually, the Alabama Junior Chamber of Commerce decided to start up a scholarship program that women across the country could compete in, and named it the Junior Miss program. The program became incredibly popular, but in 2010 it was decided to change the name from Junior Miss to Distinguished Young Women in order to “maintain relevancy with today’s young woman and to help in attracting new support for the program.”