A Family That Never Stops Growing

By Allii Fontaine
Distinguished Young Woman of Rhode Island for 2011
I participated in Distinguished Young Women during my senior year of high school. Rhode Island, being the smallest state, did not have many participants that year. I won my medallion while competing alongside 2 other girls. I became close with them, as well as my state committee! But then, I also became incredibly close with Connecticut’s Distinguished Young Woman, Val Voccio. We could not be separated for the months before Nationals.
Me and Val
My road to Nationals only showed me how much my family would be growing over the next few months. I met Val Austin from Nationals and of course, Mama Lynn Underhill. They were only a taste of what was to come. I had no idea that Nationals itself would be 10x more intense!

All of us at the Wintzell’s Golf Tournament.
Upon stepping off of the airplane in Mobile, Alabama, I added 49 new sisters to my family before I even knew their names. It was that easy. I knew that those girls would look out for me, and I them. To this day we all still talk and keep each other up to date on our lives. But the growing did not end there.
Backstage fun!
I met so many more people during my two weeks that I could never possibly forget. There was my lovely roommate, Rebecca of Maryland, my PHENOMENAL host family, the Dekles, my backstage mom, my amazing choreographers, my driver, the two amazing police officers who kept me laughing everyday, and every National committee member!
There were two people who I owe so much more to than I could ever give. Jessica and Bill Barrick are the reason that I was able to come to Nationals. They were my state sponsors and I try to keep in contact as much I can! They were instrumental in my experience. They came to every appearance and I cannot thank them enough! 

Me and my States Club Sponsor, Bill Barrick.
Becky Jo, the soul behind Distinguished Young Women, keeps this program alive and none of us would be here without her! Although she is retiring this year, she holds a place in my family. I will never forget the push up contest we had at the beach! She will be dearly missed but her legacy will continue on!
Celebrating my 18th birthday at Nationals was crazy! People from all over the country wrote on my card and hugged me. I watched my family grow into hundreds that day! It is an unreal feeling to see people from across the country bond over the Nationals experience!
After Nationals I began planning my RI 2012 program. It was bitter-sweet, but my family grew again! I now get to watch my “little-sister” Chandler Cross compete at Nationals. I will be returning as a Has-Been! I get to return with 15 of my sisters and meet a whole new group of 49 girls who I am sure will quickly become a part of my family.
Distinguished Young Women is literally a family that will never stop growing. There is always a new class to “induct” and an old class to get to know. It will never end. I am so proud to consider myself a part of a family that will always be there no matter where I am. Whether I’m in North Pole, Alaska, or Miami, Florida, I know that there is always a place to visit or stay. There is nothing I regret about Distinguished Young Women. It is however something I think twice about…and three times about and a lot about! Whenever I can, I talk about how much Distinguished Young Women has changed my life.
I hope that every young girl who knows about this program participates in it somehow. It is life changing no matter your participation level. My family will never stop growing and I hope you all have a chance to join it one day! I can’t say I’ll ever miss it, because it will never end! Distinguished Young Women is just that family that will keep on giving!
Remember to keep the spirit alive forever and always!
Allii Fontaine
Distinguished Young Woman of Rhode Island 2011 <3 
Allii Fontaine is a college freshman at Elmira College in Elmira, New York majoring in Nursing with a Pediatric tract. Originally from Burrillville, Rhode Island, Allii was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Rhode Island for 2011. Learn more about Allii here! 

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