Distinguished Young Women program helps girls pay for college

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DOTHAN, AL (WTVY) Eighteen-year-old Dothan High School senior Ju’Neau Scott has big career dreams.

“Get my associates and then transfer to Tuskegee for my Masters in psychology, said" Scott.

Scott is one of a dozen contestants vying for Distinguished Young Woman of Houston County.

She’s hoping the program will help her pay for college.

“As most people know, college isn’t cheap, so any type of assistance is always helpful," said Scott.

Fellow competitor Reese Lisenby agrees.

“I’m planning to go to Auburn University next Fall and then going on to medical school," said Lisenby. "Undergrad and medical school – neither are inexpensive – so every little bit helps.”

This year, thanks in part to generous sponsors like Flowers Hospital, Laurin and Graham Rhodes, Wiregrass Construction, Southern Clinic and Coleman Worldwide, Distinguished Young Women of Houston County will be giving away $19,000 in scholarship money to Houston county senior girls and awarding over $339,000 in college granted scholarships to participants if they choose to attend Troy University or the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

"This program has definitely given me the means to be able to go to the college of my choice," said Emma Grace Benton, reigning Distinguished Young Woman of Houston County.

Benton is now a full-time student at Samford University.

“I was able to win $6,000 through this local program and state program, so that was really helpful," said Benton.

Twelve seniors from six high schools will be judged in several categories Saturday night. Fitness, talent and scholastic achievement among them.

Competitors like Scott say it’s a win-win.

“DYW is a great program. You meet new people, you make new friends and you get to go to college, which is always a blessing,” said Scott.

You can catch this year’s competition Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. at the Dothan Opera House.

The overall winner will go on to represent Houston County in the Distinguished Young Women of Alabama contest.

Distinguished Young Women – formerly Junior Miss – was founded in 1958. It’s the largest and oldest nationwide scholarship program for high school girls. Since its inception, the program has provided life-changing experiences for more than 800 high school seniors in Houston County and more than 730,000 young women nationwide.