By Madi Beumee
Distinguished Young Woman of New Jersey for 2015
As I spend my last official week as the Distinguished Young Woman of New Jersey, I’ve started to look back on my experience with this wonderful program. A year ago, I was a senior in high school in the midst of college applications and auditions. Hoping to attending an arts school, my parents were very adamant about me applying for scholarships, as college is not cheap! In the midst of my search, I came across the page for the Distinguished Young Women program. After reading into the program, I figured I might as well sign up to participate. I mean, I could perform for my talent, had decent grades, gone through multiple interviews before, and thought I could get through a fitness routine. Little did I know the adventure that was in store.
The weekend of my state program was a whirlwind of excitement. I got to know the other girls participating in the program, as well as some former participants as well. For my talent, I performed the song “I Wanna Be a Rockette” from Kicks: The Showgirl Musical, little did I know that one of the former participants had actually previously been a Rockette! Just another example of the amazing women that participate in this program! The night of the program, the other girls participating and I had a blast cheering each other on through the fitness routine and admiring one another’s talents. When they announced that I was selected as the representative for New Jersey, I was shocked! As the placed the medallion on my neck I had no idea what was in store for the next year.
One of my favorite parts of the program, is the “Be Your Best Self” Week. A week dedicated to encouraging individuals to be their best self, encompassing the five elements of the program (healthy, ambitious, involved, responsible, and studious). Each state representative is required to give a presentation or program teaching others about the program and what steps they can take to become their best self. For my presentation, I wanted to make each of the elements applicable and resonate with the age group I was speaking in (for example: being responsible and proper internet use, being healthy and having a healthy body image). The event was a big success and I think the girls really enjoyed themselves.
In June when I arrived in Mobile, Alabama I was greeted by my host family who immediately made me feel at home. Staying with a host family was hands down one of my favorite aspects of the experience. They made my roommate and I feel at home and introduced us to so many aspects of the “southern” culture. In addition to the activities I got to do with my host family, The Distinguished Young Women organization kept us busy! From touring the USS Alabama to spending the afternoon in a Food Pantry, each day was filled with something that allowed us to connect with one another, while positively affecting those around us.
I found myself surrounded my so many hardworking, passionate girls. Whether it’d be cheering one another on at the ropes course or laughing during the oyster eating competition, I left Mobile, Alabama that summer with 49 new friends.
I am eternally grateful for my Distinguished Young Women experience. It’s crazy to think that what I thought would be a chance at a scholarship, became the adventure of a lifetime. Though I will be sad to pass on the New Jersey medallion, I am reminded that it is better to be a “Has-Been”, than a “Never-Was”.
Madi Beumee is a college freshman at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York. Originally from Denville, New Jersey, Madi was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of New Jersey for 2015. Learn more about Madi here!