Haylee Runyan, a senior at Walker, spent a week in Montgomery to compete in the Alabama Distinguished Young Women scholarship program held last Friday and Saturday (January 16th and 17th). Haylee competed with girls across the state in fitness, talent, and self-expression categories.
- Tell me about your daily activities.
Each day we got up at 6:30 and went to practice at 7:30. We went to the Kiwanna’s Club for lunch one day, as well as the Cattlemen’s Association. We also got to go to the zoo and church with our host families. We finished practice at about 10 at night.
- What was it like spending a week without contact with friends and family?
It was so hard! I missed everyone. However, the letters that people sent made me feel right at home, like I never left. I also stayed with the most amazing host family EVER! They catered to my every need; I wouldn’t have made it without them.
- How many other girls competed? What was your relationship with the other contestants?
There were 49 other girls. I loved those girls! We became sisters, and I have kept talking to them since I’ve been back. They were such amazing, supportive young women I know I’ll never forget.
- What was your favorite part about the week? Least favorite?
My favorite part of the week in Montgomery was getting to know 49 other distinguished young women in Alabama. My least favorite part would either be the lack of sleep or 10 hour days of fitness.
- What did you learn throughout this experience?
Through this experience I learned that I can survive without a phone. I forgot what it was like to actually talk to people. Since we didn’t have Instagram or Twitter we had to describe our homes, families, and friends without pictures…that was interesting.
- What advice do you have for future Walker County Distinguished Young Women?
First, I would encourage any junior girl to do it. You don’t have to be amazing in every category, just good. Also, you can only compete once, so it is literally a once in a lifetime experience. To the future DYW, cherish every moment. It’ll be over in the blink of an eye, but you’ll be left with the most incredible memories and unforgettable friends.
By Amanda Cuomo