Starkville’s Feng named 2019 DYW of Mississippi

Distinguished Young Woman of Starkville, was named the Distinguished Young Woman of Mississippi for 2019 during the state competition last weekend in Meridian. (Courtesy photo)

Staff Writer

The Distinguished Young Woman of Starkville, Lori Feng, was named the Distinguished Young Woman of Mississippi for 2019 during the state competition last weekend in Meridian.

The preliminary competition took place Thursday and Friday nights, and the top 10 were named and awards given Saturday night.

Feng is the daughter of Li Wang and Gary Feng, and the family lives in Starkville. Feng is a senior at the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science in Columbus.

Feng was awarded $9,000 in scholarship money for being named the DYW of Mississippi, along with winning the Overall Talent Award and Overall Scholastic Award.

During the competition, 25 percent of the score comes from a 10-minute interview, 25 percent is from academics, 15 percent is from fitness, 20 percent is from talent and 15 percent is from self-expression, which is an on-stage question.

Feng said she was first introduced to the DYW program while she was in fourth grade and living in Washington. After her family moved to Starkville, she began competing in the program her junior year of high school.

Feng said she performed “The Liszt Etude No. 1” on piano for her talent during the competition.

“It’s a pretty technical, fast piece,” Feng said. “I’m more used to slower pieces by Chopin, so it was a little different for me, but it was fun.”

Feng said her favorite parts of the competition were the talent portion and the interview.

“I enjoy playing the piano, and it’s something I’m more comfortable doing on stage,” Feng said. “The interview is always very interesting because it’s public speaking, and I enjoy that as well.”

Feng said the most memorable part of the experience was getting to meet the other girls in the program, and she loves that the DYW program does not have a competitive atmosphere.

“Especially because it is a program geared toward scholarship money, it is very easy to create a competitive environment where the girls don’t really get to spend any time together,” Feng said. “But this year and just in general, a lot of the girls are so humble and inspiring, and that’s really what I’m going to be taking away from this experience.”

DYW of Starkville Program Director Susan Keith said Feng exhibited the same positive attitude as her competitors.

“All the girls there talked about how friendly Lori was and how she always had a smile on her face,” Keith said.

Feng said the moment she was named the DYW of Mississippi is a blur to her.

“I was pretty overwhelmed, and I don’t think I had a coherent thought going through my head honestly,” Feng said.

Keith said it is no shock that Feng was named the state DYW.

“It didn’t come as a big surprise because she’s so brilliant and talented,” Keith said. “To me, she’s the epitome of what Distinguished Young Woman is all about.”

Now that she is the DYW of Mississippi, Feng said she is most looking forward to being able to work with the DYW State Committee and growing more from the program, including doing more mock interviews and practicing her talent.

Feng will go on to participate in the national program at the end of June of 2019 in Mobile, Alabama.

“I am also really excited to attend the national program next summer and meet even more people involved with the program,” Feng said.