BREMEN — A Bremen High School senior will represent her hometown during an annual statewide scholarship competition that continues through Saturday.
Haley Foster, the daughter of Christina and Michael Foster, will be among 19 Hoosier high school seniors taking part in the Distinguished Young Women of Indiana scholarship competition in Kokomo, beginning Thursday, Feb. 28.
“I became involved in the DYW program because I feel that it is a great scholarship opportunity to help pay for college,” Foster said via email, “and it is a great way to promote self-confidence in a humble way.”
Participants from each of Indiana’s local Distinguished Young Women programs advance to the state competition in Kokomo where a panel of five judges will select one representative to advance to the annual National Finals competition in Mobile, Ala., in late June, according to the organization.
“I became involved by talking to our local supporters and by doing everything that I could to get involved, whether that was rehearsals or practicing my talent,” Foster said.
“I’m really looking forward to meeting so many unique girls that have many of the same values and priorities that I have.”
Until 2011, the statewide competition was known as Indiana’s Junior Miss. The national organization renamed the scholarship contest, hoping the name change and rebranding would remove implications that the event is a beauty pageant.
The Indiana competition was held in Frankfort for much of its history, but is being held in Kokomo for the second year.
The contestants are judged in five categories to create an overall score. The interview and talent categories are each worth 25 percent of the total, scholastics is 20 percent, while fitness and self-expression are 15 percent each.
The contestants must be legal U.S. residents and can never have been married or pregnant, according to the organization.
The statewide winner gets a $7,000 scholarship award and wins all expenses paid travel to Mobile for the national competition. The Indiana contest offers a total of $22,000 in cash scholarships and college-granted scholarships totaling $190,000, according to organizers.
And a chance to earn scholarship money is one of the reasons Foster said she’s competing. She plans on attending Bethel College in Mishawaka and studying elementary and special education after graduating Bremen High School.
“I hope to gain a perspective on all of the opportunities that are offered to help pay for college,” she said, “and I hope to emerge even more out of my comfort zone and make a positive impact on the girls around me.”
The competition takes place in three phases, according to organizers, with the first Thursday evening. The second phase is Friday, and the event concludes Saturday.
The 2012 Distinguished Young Woman of Bremen was Jenna Pfeiffer. Indiana’s Chloe McLaughlin of Frankfort advanced to the national competition last year.
“My philosophy on life is to take every day as it comes and not to take anything for granted,” Foster said. “All that we have could be taken in a second, and every day is a blessing from God. So I try and let myself trust in the plans that God has for me, and when I do, I can be confident that no matter how difficult the road is, in the end, it will all be worth it.”