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Local teen competes for DYW title

Brookhaven’s Riley Whittington may already be a distinguished young woman, but she wants to be called one officially.

The daughter of Clay and Traci Whittington, the teen is competing for the title of Distinguished Young Woman of Mississippi. If successful, she’ll advance to the Distinguished Young Woman for 2020 finals in June 2020 in Mobile, Alabama. Top prize there is a $50,000 national title scholarship. Other winners will receive a share of more than $100,000 in cash scholarship awards.

Whittington is a Brookhaven High School senior who is French horn section leader for the band, a member of Ole Miss Mid-South Honor Band, a competitive cheerleader and part of the Junior Auxiliary Crown Club. She plans to attend the University of Mississippi and pursue a career in international business.

She’s one of 33 high school seniors across the state competing for the DYW Mississippi title.

The DYW Mississippi Program competition will take place at Evangel Temple Church in Meridian Thursday through Saturday, where contestants are evaluated on scholastic achievement, fitness, self-expression, talent and interview. Whittington’s talent portion will be a French horn presentation of “Mozart No. 3.”

Contestants arrived in Meridian Sunday and are participating in a week full of rehearsals, personal appearances, parties and three nights of actual competition, where they compete for approximately $30,000 in scholarships. This is year 63 for the state program.

“We are extremely excited about this year’s program,” said Sid Wilkinson, DYWMP chairman. “This program celebrates what is right with today’s young people and offers them cash scholarship opportunities to further their education.”

DYW was founded in 1958 as America’s Junior Miss and was renamed in 2010 to avoid confusion with other pageants. Created as a way to reward the accomplishments of high school girls seeking to pursue higher education, it remains the oldest and largest scholarship program for young women. Notable past participants include Diane Sawyer, Debra Messing, Deborah Norville, Kim Basinger and Kathie Lee Gifford. Mississippi has had three contestants named national winner in the program’s history.