Twenty-nine high school seniors vie for DYW of Mississippi title (2024)

Twenty-nine high school seniors from across the state will compete for more than $35,000 in college scholarships when the 2025 Distinguished Young Women of Mississippi Program gets underway Thursday, July 11, in Meridian.

Now in its 68th year, the Distinguished Young Women Program aims to celebrate and spotlight outstanding achievements of some of the state’s brightest high school women. The three nights of competition at The Evangel Temple will conclude Saturday night.

Doors will open nightly at 6:30 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, with each show starting promptly at 7:30 p.m.

“We are extremely excited about this year’s program,” Sid Wilkinson, state chairman of the Distinguished Young Women of Mississippi Program, said in a news release. “Distinguished Young Women celebrates the outstanding accomplishments of high school women and offers them cash scholarship opportunities to further their education and to develop their self confidence.”

During the week-long program in Meridian, participants are evaluated on scholastic achievement, fitness, self-expression, talent and interview.

The overall titleholder named to represent the state as the Distinguished Young Woman of Mississippi will go on to compete in the national Distinguished Young Women of 2025 finals to be held next June in Mobile, Alabama. There she will compete for the opportunity to win a share of more than $100,000 in cash scholarship awards, including the $40,000 national title scholarship award.

Distinguished Young Women was founded in 1958 with a mission to empower young women by providing scholarship opportunities and the chance to develop their self confidence and participate in life skills workshops that prepare them for success after high school. They also get the chance to create connections with a nationwide network of young women with similar goals.

Reserved tickets for the 2025 DYW program at the Evangel Temple are available for $65 for a three-night package, and general admission tickets are available for $50 for a three-night package. Individual tickets for Thursday and Friday nights are available for $20 and $25 for Saturday night’s final. Tickets may be obtained by logging onto www.purplepass.com/dywofms25 or by calling 601-480-3438.

Following are brief biographies of the 2025 Distinguished Young Women contestants:

Zee Woolie, Attala County

High School: Kosciusko High School

Career goal: Education and Youth Ministry

College choice: Delta State University

Talent: Vocal presentation, “Gratitude”

Parent: Santana Wollie of Kosciusko

Presley Scarbrough, Choctaw County

High School: Choctaw County High School

Career goal: Kinesiology

College choice: Holmes Community College and Mississippi State University

Talent: Vocal presentation, “Show Me the Way”

Parents: Wayne and Jessica Scarbrough of Ackerman

Paisley Ivey, Clarke County

High School: Clarkdale High School

Career goal: Veterinarian

College choice: Mississippi State University

Talent: Vocal presentation, “Nothing You Can Take From Me”

Parents: Dr. and Mrs. Jacob Ivey of Meridian

Abbie McKissack, George County

High School: George County High School

Career goal: Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

College choice: University of South Alabama

Talent: Piano presentation, “Phantom of the Opera”

Parents: Brad and Ashley McKissack of Lucedale

Sadie Breland, Greene County

High School: Greene County High School

Career goal: Algebra Teacher

College choice: University of Southern Mississippi

Talent: Piano presentation, “Great Balls of Fire”

Parents: Charles and Melissa Breland of Leakesville

Ellen Morgan, Hinds County

High School: Jackson Academy High School

Career goal: Veterinary Medicine

College choice: Mississippi State University

Talent: Ballet en Pointe presentation, “Comptine d’un Autre ete: L’Apres-Midi”

Parents: Nick and Laura Morgan of Jackson

Cassie Roberts, Jasper County

High School: Raleigh High School

Career goal: Art History Professor

College choice: East Central Community College and University of Mississippi

Talent: Vocal presentation, “All I Ask”

Parents: Jason and Paula Roberts of Louin

Sara-Kate Welborn, East Jackson County

High School: East Central High School

Career goal: Nurse Practitioner

College choice: Mississippi State University and University of South Alabama

Talent: Tumbling dance presentation, “You Can’t Stop the Beat”

Parents: Greg and Denise Welborn of Moss Point

Vanessa Herbert, West Jackson County

High School: Ocean Springs High School

Career goal: Pediatric Radiologist

College choice: University of Alabama

Talent: Tap dance presentation, “Sing”

Parents: Justin and Kristina Herbert of Ocean Springs

Anne Trest, Jones County

High School: West Jones High School

Career goal: Physical Therapist

College choice: University of Southern Mississippi

Talent: Vocal presentation, “Don’t Rain on My Parade”

Parents: Michael and Dawn Trest of Ellisville

Ava Randle, Lafayette County

High School: Oxford High School

Career goal: Dietician

College choice: Baylor University

Talent: Violin presentation, “The Star-Spangled Banner”

Parents: Eric and Melanie Randle of Oxford

Katy Weir, Lamar County

High School: Oak Grove High School

Career goal: Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgeon

College choice: University of Alabama

Talent: Ballet en Pointe presentation, “Kitri’s Act 1 Variation”

Parents: Jim and Nancy Weir of Hattiesburg

Maddie Clayton, Lauderdale County

High School: Lamar High School

Career goal: Criminal Justice and Law

College choice: University of Mississippi

Talent: Vocal presentation, “Don’t Rain on My Parade”

Parents: Jason and Dr. Danielle Clayton of Meridian

Salma Kamal, Lee County

High School: Tupelo High School

Career goal: Mechanical and Industrial Engineer

College choice: Mississippi State University

Talent: Monologue presentation, “If”

Parents: The late El Habib and Najat Bani of Tupelo

Vahita Anand, Madison County

High School: St. Andrews Episcopal High School

Career goal: Physician

College choice: Emory University

Talent: Flute presentation, “Badinerie from Orchestral Suite No. 2”

Parents: Dr. Ashish and Dr. Varsha Manucha Anand of Madison

Maggie Kate Rogers, Marion County

High School: Columbia Academy High School

Career goal: Architecture

College choice: Mississippi State University

Talent: Contemporary dance presentation, “Invisible”

Parents: Danny and Kim Rogers of Columbia

Marlee Washington, Neshoba County

High School: Neshoba Central High School

Career goal: Pediatrics

College choice: Spelman College

Talent: Acro dance presentation, “Proud Mary”

Parents: Mangold and Melonie Washington of Philadelphia

Emily Terrell, Newton County

High School: Newton County High School

Career goal: Speech Language Pathologist

College choice: University of Southern Mississippi

Talent: Jazz dance presentation, “Knock on Wood”

Parents: Adam and Bethany Terrell of Union

Mary Amelia Clemens, Pascagoula

High School: Resurrection Catholic High School

Career goal: Social Worker

College choice: Mississippi State University

Talent: Contemporary dance presentation, “Praying”

Parents: Geoffrey and Eve Clemens of Pascagoula

Adleigh Fricke, Pearl River County

High School: Pearl River Central High School

Career goal: Labor and Delivery Nurse

College choice: University of Southern Mississippi

Talent: Lyrical dance presentation, “She Used to Be Mine”

Parents: Lindsey Berghman of Carriere

Allie Windham, Perry County

High School: Perry Central High School

Career goal: Orthodontist

College choice: University of Southern Mississippi

Talent: Jazz dance presentation, “Great Balls of Fire”

Parents: Jeff and Jennifer Windham of Beaumont

Lauren Shows, Petal

High School: Petal High School

Career goal: Sports Agent or Sports Psychologist

College choice: Undecided

Talent: Vocal presentation, “Anyone”

Parents: Jeremy Shows and Emily Kinsey of Petal

Sydney Higdon, Rankin County

High School: Florence High School

Career goal: Physical Therapist

College choice: Mississippi State University

Talent: Jazz dance presentation, “We Made It”

Parents: Scott and Jamie Higdon of Florence

Chloe Woodard, Simpson County

High School: Mendenhall High School

Career goal: High School Algebra Teacher

College choice: Xavier University of Louisiana

Talent: Tap dance presentation, “Blame It on the Boogie”

Parents: Christopher and Pamela Woodard of New Hebron

Mallory Plunk, Smith County

High School: Raleigh High School

Career goal: Lawyer

College choice: University of Mississippi

Talent: Vocal presentation, “Stupid Cupid”

Parents: Joel and Sara Plunk of Mount Olive

Maggie Martin, Starkville

High School: Starkville Academy High School

Career goal: Medicine

College choice: Auburn University

Talent: Hip Hop dance presentation, “Tick Tick Boom”

Parents: Dr. Andrew and Anna Katherine Martin of Starkville

Grace Ann Courtney, Stone County

High School: Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science High School

Career goal: Plastic Surgeon Specializing in Pediatric Facial Reconstruction

College choice: University of Mississippi

Talent: Piano presentation, “Clair de Lune”

Parents: Sean and Rebecca Courtney of Wiggins

Mary Kate Stokley, Wayne County

High School: Wayne Academy High School

Career goal: Pre-med with a focus on Pediatric Medicine

College choice: Auburn University

Talent:Vocal presentation, “Another Day of Sun”

Parents: Todd Stokley and Kim Turner of Waynesboro

Erial Mays, Winston County

High School: Noxapater Attendance Center High School

Career goal: OB-GYN

College choice: Harvard University

Talent:Vocal presentation, “I Will Always Love You”

Parents: Eric Mays and Lakeshia Miller of Louisville

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Twenty-nine high school seniors vie for DYW of Mississippi title (2024)
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