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By ANGIE CARNATHAN
Starkville named Holly Machelle Travis its new Distinguished Young Woman for 2013 Saturday night at Mississippi State University‚Äôs Lee Hall. She is the daughter of Rickey and Cynthia Travis.
‚ÄúI was so excited to hear my name called,‚ÄĚ Travis said. ‚ÄúEach girl was so talented and beautiful that it could have been anyone‚Äôs name called out.‚ÄĚ
Travis, a junior at Starkville High School, said she felt blessed to have been given the title.
‚ÄúDistinguished Young Women is an amazing program that challenges girls to be their best selves, and I am honored to have the privilege of being a part of it,‚ÄĚ Travis said. ‚ÄúI am thrilled to represent Starkville in the state program and look forward to being a role model for others as Starkville‚Äôs Distinguished Young Woman.‚ÄĚ
A great deal went into Travis‚Äô preparation for the competition, but she said it was well worth it.
‚ÄúI spent countless late nights at the Academy of Competitive and Performing Arts (ACPA) practicing for talent and fitness in preparation for the program,‚ÄĚ Travis said. ‚ÄúIn the weeks before the program I constantly worked on interview skills with family and other mentors.‚ÄĚ
Travis said one of the best parts of participation in the Distinguished Young Woman competition was spending time with all the other wonderful girls from Starkville.
‚ÄúI enjoyed every minute of getting to know the other contestants because they are all such amazing girls,‚ÄĚ Travis said. ‚ÄúBackstage everyone was cheering each other on and helping out anyway they could.‚ÄĚ
Travis was not only the overall winner, but was also given the Physical Fitness Award. Travis said she thinks health is something that should be important to youth around the state.
‚ÄúStaying physically fit should be a priority in everyone‚Äôs lives and by having it a part of the program,‚ÄĚ she said, ‚ÄúDistinguished Young Woman encourages all young women to stay fit and healthy,‚ÄĚ
Travis said she looks forward to the year ahead as Starkville‚Äôs Distinguished Young Woman, and plans to represent Starkville in the best way possible in all that she does.
‚ÄúI hope to be a role model for other young women by embodying the characteristics of ‚ÄėBe Your Best Self,‚Äô the theme of Distinguished Young Woman,‚ÄĚ Travis said. ‚ÄúI want to encourage young girls to understand the importance of focusing on physical fitness, academics and giving back to the community.‚ÄĚ
Mallory Pitts was 2012‚Äôs Distinguished Young Woman of Starkville and Mississippi. Travis said Pitts has left an indelible mark on the title and has been a wonderful example for all who follow in her footsteps.
‚ÄúMallory is one of the sweetest girls I have ever met,‚ÄĚ Travis said. ‚ÄúShe strives to live a Christ-centered life, which is something I also strive to do, and she was supportive of all the contestants throughout the program. I am looking forward to working with her in preparation for the Distinguished Young Woman State Program.‚ÄĚ
The state program is scheduled for June 28-30. Travis said she is looking forward to getting to work with Pitts, Susan Keith, Shannon Skelton and the entire ‚ÄúTeam Starkville‚ÄĚ as she prepares for the state program.
‚ÄúI plan to continue working hard in all areas of the competition so that I can be a great representative for Starkville,‚ÄĚ Travis said.
Distinguished Young Woman is a scholarship competition, and Travis plans to use her winnings right here in Starkville.
‚ÄúI plan to attend Mississippi State University and am very excited to receive the scholarships that will help offset the expense of my college education,‚ÄĚ Travis said.
Travis said her family has been very supportive throughout this entire process.
‚ÄúI wouldn‚Äôt be where I am today without them,‚ÄĚ Travis said.
Along with thanks for her family, Travis said there are many others who have helped her achieve this goal.
‚ÄúFirst and foremost I am thankful to God for the opportunities he has given me,‚ÄĚ Travis said. ‚ÄúI have been blessed with so many amazing people who have supported me.‚ÄĚ
Distinguished Young Woman was founded in 1958 in Mobile, Ala., and is the largest and oldest national scholarship program for high school girls. It has provided life-changing experiences for more than 700,000 young women across the country and more than $93 million in cash scholarships at the local, state and national levels. In addition to cash scholarships, Distinguished Young Women participants are eligible for college-granted scholarships from almost 200 colleges and universities. More than $108 million in college scholarship opportunities were provided last year, some of which included full tuition, room and board to first-class institutions. Many participants leave the program with scholarships to help them with their college educations, but all of them walk away with friendships, life skills and increased self-confidence. Distinguished Young Women strives to give every young woman the opportunity to further her education and prepare for a successful future.
Distinguished Young Woman of Mississippi, Starkville‚Äôs Mallory Pitts, will participate in the national program June 28-30 in Mobile.