OCEANSIDE — Pacific Ridge High School junior Ciara Corbeil was one of a handful of San Diego region teens to make it to the state finals of the Distinguished Young Women scholarship competition.
Among her accomplishments that got her to the state finals include making the dean’s list for five years, is a CIF volleyball player and helps others as a global volunteer.
Ciara earned a $1,000 scholarship in the regional interview category and another $1,000 scholarship in the state speech category. Her future plans are to attend Yale or Stanford University to study law.
The scholarship competition focuses on young women’s academic records, public speaking skills, on-stage interview, personal talent and fitness. The contest does not include a beauty category. Medallions are awarded — not tiaras.
The goal of the competition is to encourage young women to be their best self.
“The competition empowers young women,” Ciara said.
To encourage all eligible girls to enter the contest no entry fee is charged and there are no costume or wardrobe requirements beyond a basic T-shirt and yoga pants for the fitness dance routine.
Out of the San Diego region only five competitors go on to state competition.
“Everyone is the cream of the crop in what they have already achieved in their young lives,” Juliet Torykian, chair of Distinguished Young Women of San Diego, said.
The competition for high school juniors has been held nationally since 1958 and regionally in San Diego County since 1962.
Past winners routinely come back to help coach contestants the following year. Some return annually to help organize the competition.
This builds sisterhood and mentorship. Contestants become friends during the competition and get firsthand advise from former contestants.
“We’re helping each girl reach her fullest potential,” Torykian said. “That’s the biggest reason why I got involved 10 years ago.”
Once young women qualify at the local city level they are coached through competition for regional, state and national scholarship awards.
Learning the group fitness dance that they perform at the awards ceremony is a big part of the preparation.
“By the end of the first rehearsal they’re all friends for life,” Torykian said. “They’re very supportive of each other. There’s a team environment on stage.”
Contestants are coached on interview skills and attend a personal best workshop that reviews healthy lifestyle choices such as avoiding peer pressure and applying for college.
Teens also showcase personal talent that ranges from singing, to karate, and reciting poetry.
Contest applications are available through high schools.
Filed Under: The Coast News