Saturday night was a big night for Starkville resident Mallory Pitts, who was named the Distinguished Young Woman of Mississippi.
Her gymnastic/dance routine to the Charlie Daniels medley “Devil Went Down to Georgia,” by Vassar Clements also won her the Brainstorm Creative Group Overall Talent Award and a fitness preliminary award.
Pitts also brought home the Beth Finch Spirit Award, which is voted on by the 40 contestants in the state competition.
In addition to the title of DYW of Mississippi, Pitts will receive a total of $14,500 in college scholarship money from the DYW of Mississippi Scholarship Foundation, Meridian Coca-Cola and Brainstorm Creative Group.
“Our participants this year were extremely well rounded. We had 16 different winners for the 16 preliminary awards,” said Marc Fisher, program chairperson. “Mallory Pitts will be an excellent representative for this group.”
Throughout the next year, Pitts will represent Mississippi at various public events and serve as a role model to young people by spreading the program’s national outreach message of “Be Your Best Self.”
According to the program, the five elements of the “Be Your Best Self” Program include:
• Be Healthy — Be physically fit and drug free.
• Be Involved — Serve your community.
• Be Studious — Stay in school.
• Be Ambitious — Set and achieve goals.
• Be Responsible — Live by moral and ethical principles.
Pitts said she absolutely loves how the “Be Your Best Self” motto can make a positive difference in the lives of young women.
“The goal is to work on the inner you and ultimately becoming your best self every day through these characteristics,” Pitts said. “It is so easy in today’s world to focus on other peoples problems and flaws. This program really directs the attention on yourself and the person you are in this world. When exemplifying these characteristics in your life and setting and example, you will truly be a light in the world today.”
Pitts will join contestants from all 50 states in Mobile, Ala., for the 55th Annual Distinguished Young Women National Finals, June 28-30, 2012. All state winners will compete for a share of at least $150,000 in cash scholarships. Just like the state and local programs, contestants are evaluated on scholastic achievement, fitness, self expression, talent and interview.
According to the website, the DYW, formerly Junior Miss, is a national scholarship program that inspires high school girls to develop their full, individual potential through a fun, transformative experience culminating in a celebratory showcase of their accomplishments.
The Starkville Optimist Club sponsors the DYW program locally.
“Winning the Spirit Award speaks volumes about Mallory’s character and the special young woman she is,” said Susan Keith, local coordinator of the Starkville DYW Program. “It is rare for someone to win the title of Distinguished Young Woman and the Spirit Award, which was determined by her fellow participants. Mallory’s kind and generous spirit affects all who are around her. It is that special quality that sets her apart and the reason she will be a perfect representative for Mississippi in the National Distinguished Young Woman Program next summer. She will work tirelessly, achieve her best and positively impact the young people in our state in a positive way.”
Pitts is the daughter of Michael and Stephanie Pitts of Starkville. She is an incoming senior at Starkville Academy and was one of three cheerleaders on the SA Varsity team to be named All-American winners. Pitts currently serves as captain of the team, and she works as a cheerleading coach at Game Time Cheer in Columbus.
After graduation from SA, Pitts plans to attend Mississippi State University to pursue a degree in physical therapy then continue her education at physical therapy school in South Alabama.
The Starkville DYW Committee was also honored at the state competition, winning the highest honor bestowed on local programs.
“We are one of five local programs selected for the Glenn Rawson Outstanding Program Award and one of our committee members, Laura Lea Cobb, was one of the top five volunteers in the state,” Keith said. “We also want to thank the Optimist club and all the people who helped Mallory prepare for the state program.”
Keith said without the help of Starkville volunteers, many of the weekend’s honors would not be possible.
For more information about the Distinguished Young Women of Mississippi program, visit the website, http://www.distinguishedyw.org .