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Junior Miss gets a makeover


Jan Swoope



After almost two years of market research and identity evaluation, America''s Junior Miss has been rebranded as the Distinguished Young Women program. The name change came about, in large part, in an effort to help steer away from a pageant stereotype, according to Becky Jo Peterson, national executive director. 


The program that began as a local event in Mobile, Ala., in 1958 expanded to become America''s Junior Miss in 1959. Because times and perceptions have evolved, the scholarship program elected to adopt the new name to remain relevant and better reflect its purpose -- to positively impact the lives of young women in high school by providing a transformative experience that promotes and rewards scholarship, leadership and individual talents. 


Kathryn Mathis Rooker of Columbus will be one of the young ladies vying for $42,000 in scholarship awards July 21-23 at the state competition in Meridian. The 17-year-old daughter of Mike and Lisa Rooker won the title of Distinguished Young Woman of Lowndes County for 2012 at the at-large competition held in Meridian in April. 


The public is invited to a "send off" reception for the New Hope High School senior Friday, July 15, from 6-7 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, 602 College St., in the parlor room known as Carolyn''s room. 


Lynn Atkins of the Lowndes DYW program said, "Kathryn is a special young lady who will represent us very well at the state competition. This has been a dream of hers for many years." 


The winner of the state competition in two weeks will advance to the national level, where she will be in contention for a share of more than $125,000 in scholarships. Participants compete in categories of scholarship, interview, talent, fitness and self-expression. 


For more information about the Lowndes DYW program, email Lynn Atkins at [email protected] To learn more about the state program, contact Marc Fisher at [email protected] Read about DYW at


Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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