2021

This year’s Distinguished Young Women of Mississippi Program will feature a familiar format: Live.

When Mississippi’s rising COVID-19 numbers prompted a possible cancellation of state finals for the 2021 DYWM in July 2020, officials immediately went into action and restructured the annual scholarship program into a virtual format. A first for the program, the 64th annual DYWM state finals were streamed online over two nights, with pre-recorded footage of the preliminary night and finals streamed live the following evening.

On Sunday, 29 high school seniors will arrive in Meridian to compete in the 2022 Distinguished Young Women of Mississippi, which will be presented live over three nights at Evangel Temple Church.

“We’re back!” an elated DYWM Program Chairman Hampton Thames said. “We are thrilled beyond measure that we are back on stage, being able to showcase our rising high school seniors for our state finals for 2022.”

Held under the auspices of the Distinguished Young Women of Mississippi Board of Directors, this year’s state program will award more than $28,000 in scholarships. After Sunday’s orientation, the contenders will begin a week that will include rehearsals, a Host Family Night Party, community service activities, an autograph signing party at Bella G, a Distinguished Night on the Red Carpet at the MSU Riley Center, a Judges Party, plus three nights of competition. During their week in Meridian, the DYWM contenders will reside with host families.

Three nights of competition will be held beginning Thursday. Preliminaries are Thursday and Friday, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Finals will begin at 8 p.m.

The Distinguished Young Women of Mississippi Program uses the same judging standard and basis of selection as the state and national competitions. Contestants are evaluated by a selected panel of judges on the following areas of competition:

• Scholastics, 25 percent: Judged by a separate individual with a background in academics and scholastic evaluation who considers each participant's grade point average, standardized test scores and curriculum.

• Interview, 25 percent: In a 10-minute interview and discussion session, the judges' panel considers: clarity of expression, mental alertness, perception, sense of values, human relations, educated responses, knowledge of current issues and events and personality.

• Talent, 20 percent: Each participant is allowed 90 seconds for her talent presentation. Judges consider: technical ability, originality, appropriateness of selection, costume and stage presence.

• Fitness, 15 percent: Participants are evaluated in overall conditioning during a choreographed fitness routine. Judges consider: agility, coordination, strength and stamina.

• Self Expression, 15 percent: Participants are evaluated in grace, demeanor, self-confidence and communication skills. Judges consider: poise, carriage, posture, composure, and communication ability.

The overall titleholder will go on to compete at nationals, which will be held in 2022 in Mobile, Alabama.

Following are brief bios of the 2022 Distinguished Young Women of Mississippi contestants:

Alayna Christine Richardson, Attala County (At-Large)

High School: Homeschooled

Career goal: Psychiatry

College choice: Holmes Community College and Mississippi State University

Talent: Vocal performance

Parents: Brady and Nicole Richardson

Kiersen Layne Easley, Choctaw County

High School: Choctaw County High School

Career goal: Registered nurse

College choice: Mississippi University for Women

Talent: Piano, “Swan Lake”

Parents: Renea Easley

Nya Jarae Nobles, Clarke County

High School: Quitman High School

Career goal: Biochemistry

College choice: Mississippi State University

Talent: Color Guard presentation, “Ocean Eyes” by Billie Ellish

Parents: Billy and Diane Nobles

Abigail Susan Vargheese, Mississippi At-Large (Clinton)

High School: Clinton High School

Career goal: Pediatrician

College choice: University of Chicago

Talent: Dance, “Aaja Nachle”

Parents: Benu and Betsy Vargheese

Chelsea Sullivan, At-Large (Covington County)

High School: Seminary High School

Career goal: Enlist in Air Force while pursuing a career in physical therapy

College choice: University of Southern Mississippi

Talent: Piano, “Minuet in G Minor”

Parents: Joseph Gordon Sr. and Charlotte Sullivan

Hannah Grace Crain, At-Large (DeSoto County)

High School: Hernando High School

Career goal: Criminal psychology, justice and intelligence

College choice: Vanderbilt University

Talent: Vocal, “Crossing a Bridge” from “Anastasia”

Parents: Matt and Heather Crain

Kate Elizabeth Myrick, East Jackson County

High School: East Central High School

Career goal: Music performance

College choice: University of Mobile

Talent: Piano and vocal performance, “House on a Hill” by Amanda Cook

Parents: Wesley and Angela Myrick

Christina Nicole Danford, At-Large (Forrest County)

High School: Sacred Heart Catholic High School

Career goal: Military physician

College choice: United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland

Talent: Violin solo, “Ladies in Lavender” by Nigel Hess

Parents: Drs. Joseph and Elizabeth Danford

Lindee Aviannah Wilson, George County

High School: George County High School

Career goal: Pediatric anesthesiologist

College choice: University of Mississippi

Talent: Piano, Frederic Chopin’s “Scherzo in B Flat Minor”

Parents: Tim and Tomi Lynn Wilson

Taylor Ashlyn Garretson, Greene County

High School: Greene County High School

Career goal: Fashion consultant/stylist

College choice: Mississippi State University

Talent: Contemporary lyrical dance, “Beautiful”

Parents: Ron and Vicky Garretson

Neeley Anne Roberston, Jones County

High School: Laurel Christian High School

Career goal: Professional entertainer: Broadway performer/television actress

College choice: NYU Tisch School of the Arts

Talent: Vocal performance, “Gimme Gimme”

Parents: Joe-Michael and Jennifer Robertson

Elsie Ann Tucker, At-Large (Lafayette County)

High School: Oxford High School

Career goal: Law

College choice: University of Mississippi

Talent: Vocal

Parents: Tom and Leigh Tucker

Magdalene Grace Triplett, Lauderdale County

High School: Lamar School

Career goal: Classical professional singer/professor of voice

College choice: Vanderbilt University

Talent: Vocal, “Think of Me” from “The Phantom of the Opera”

Parents: John and Holly Triplett

Acadiana Elyse Pannell, Lee County

High School: Mississippi School of Mathematics and Science

Career goal: Plastic surgery

College choice: Xavier University

Talent: Science experiment

Parents: Lynsee Pannell

Margaret Lou Ann Birks, Lowndes County

High School: New Hope High School

Career goal: Analytical physical chemist for NASA

College choice: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Talent: Contemporary/Acro dance routine, “Hold Your Breath”

Parents: Denielle Birks and Peter Birks

Advikaa Ashish Anand, Madison County

High School: St. Andrews Episcopal School

Career goal: Women’s lawyer

College choice: Brown University

Talent: Poetry recitation

Parents: Drs. Ashish and Varsha Anand

Julia Johnson, Marion County

High School: Columbia High School

Career goal: Music professor/performer

College choice: University of Southern Mississippi

Talent: Vocal, “Hopelessly Devoted”

Parents: Jeffrey and Angela Johnson

Faith Anne Shumaker, Neshoba County

High School: Neshoba Central High School

Career goal: Sports broadcaster

College choice: Mississippi State University

Talent: Lyrical dance, “Hold On to Me”

Parents: Reggie and Tammy Shumaker

Alyssa McMullan, Newton County

High School: Newton County High School

Career goal: Medical field

College choice: Mississippi State University

Talent: Dance, “Bird Set Free”

Parents: Stephen and Eileen McMullen

Katherine Marie Herring, Pascagoula

High School: Resurrection Catholic High School

Career goal: Pharmacy

College choice: Mississippi State University

Talent: Contemporary jazz dance, “Heart Cry” by Drehz

Parents: George and Erinne Herring

Presley Joy Bauer, Pearl River County

High School: Pearl River Central High School

Career goal: Professional dancer/choreographer

College choice: University of Alabama

Talent: Contemporary dance, “Hold On to Me,” Lauren Daigle

Parents: Cliff and Summer Bauer

Sarah Beth High, Petal

High School: Petal High School

Career goal: Physician

College choice: Vanderbilt University

Talent: Concert marimba, excerpt from “Parody” by Jesse Monkman

Parents: Dr. and Mrs. Bart and Kelly High

Kylie Anne Powell, Scott County

High School: Forest High School

Career goal: Special education teacher

College choice: Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah

Talent: Piano, “Rustles of Spring”

Parents: Eddie and Lydia Powell

Megan Elizabeth Maddox, Simpson County

High School: Simpson County Academy

Career goal: Registered nurse

College choice: University of Southern Mississippi

Talent: Vocal

Parents: Keith and Joanna Maddox

Morgan Helena Prestage, Smith County

High School: Prestage Homeschool Academy

Career goal: Registered nurse

College choice: Jones College

Talent: Piano, “My Heart at Thy Sweet Voice” by Camille Saint-Saens

Parents: John and Rebecca Prestage

Emmy Joy Moyen, Starkville

High School: Starkville Academy

Career goal: Music business/performance

College choice: Belmont University

Talent: Guitar and vocal performance, “Be a Light” by Thomas Rhett

Parents: Eric and Missy Moyen Karolina Lizbeth Heathcock, Wayne County

High School: Wayne County High School

Career goal: Biomedical engineering

College choice: Mississippi State University

Talent: Clogging routine, “Fireball”

Parents: Kirby and Carmen Heathcock

Hallie Grace Everett, West Jackson County

High School: Ocean Springs High School

Career goal: International business

College choice: Mississippi State University

Talent: Vocal, “To Make You Feel My Love” by Trisha Yearwood

Parents: Matt and Kim Everett

Sydney Lynn Curran, At-Large (Winston County)

High School: Winston Academy

Career goal: Pediatric nurse

College choice: East Central Community College

Talent: Piano, “Rhapsodie Mignnone” by Carl Kolling

Parents: Kyle and Stacy Curran

Tickets

Tickets for the 2022 Distinguished Young Women of Mississippi Program may be purchased at the door each evening of competition, by calling 601-480-3438 or at the website www.ms.distinguishsedyw.org

Tickets prices: $60, three-night reserved seating package; $45, three-night general admission package; general admission: $15, Thursday and Friday nights, $20, Saturday night.

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