Distinguished Has a Name, and that Name is Becky Jo

By Veronica Townsend
Distinguished Young Woman of Delaware for 2011
When someone steps up to a large, seemingly impossible task, the true effects of their hard work and spirit get passed down to each person involved. However, this magical effect does not get weaker with each person it touches, but instead grows stronger and burns brighter in each person nearby. Some people never realize or ever get to witness how much their efforts have affected others. However, when you are Becky Jo Peterson, you get to step back and smile, looking at a program you worked your distinguished ways on and forever transformed. But just seeing all of your hard work made successful is one thing. Having touched the lives of girls all across the nation is something this woman should be proud of for the rest of her life. There is no amount of gratitude that could ever be expressed to the one and only Becky Jo Peterson.
Becky Jo with all of the Has Beens before National Finals.
How does one even become distinguished, or know what being distinguished entails? Well, all of us have role models and inspirations that motivate us to truly be our best selves every day. And I know I am speaking for each and every participant in the Distinguished Young Women program when I say that Becky Jo’s selflessness, upbeat attitude, and extremely hard working mentality is something that inspires us all to be the Distinguished Young Women we truly want to be. Leaving behind all of her family and friends in California to step up and be the Executive Director of this phenomenal program certainly took lots of thought and most definitely a little bit of bravery. Thinking about what would have happened if this program folded absolutely breaks my heart. If this one individual had never stepped up, I would not have gotten many chances that have changed my life. I wouldn’t have been able to represent my state and all of the people in it that I love and live for. I wouldn’t have been able to come to Mobile and find my home away from home, the girls that will be my lifelong friends and undoubtedly, bridesmaids, the volunteers and employees that work so hard to change lives, or a city filled with people holding so much compassion for all of us. I wouldn’t have been able to grow, learn, or be touched by each and every magical experience and opportunity within this program. I wouldn’t be a Distinguished Young Woman without you, Becky Jo. 
Becky Jo lights up a room. Her spirit, fun and vibrant personality, and passion for this program shines through every time she speaks and smiles.  I just recently returned to Mobile to participate as a Has-Been, which was absolutely the best week of my life. Being reunited with some of my Distinguished sisters, being out in the community and being touched by citizens of Mobile, and being big sisters to the current contestants all combined for a life-changing experience that only Distinguished Young Women knows how to provide. One day during our stay in Mobile for this second time around, we had the extreme joy of having lunch with Becky Jo in the lovely National Headquarters building. It was awesome having a meal with Becky Jo (even cooked by Becky Jo!) in a historic building that held so much of the program inside of it. It was during this meal that I realized something – your time as a Distinguished Young Woman never runs out.
Lunch at National Headquarters with Becky Jo and the Has Beens.
Sure, you may have to pass the torch onto the next wonderful girl within your state, but you will ALWAYS be a Has-Been. With this program, that is all you need. There is always an opportunity to keep giving at some level, whether it is in the form of a volunteer, a sponsor, a host family, a choreographer, and so much more. Becky Jo has demonstrated this for us and sets the example that just because you aren’t wearing that medallion anymore, there is still so much you can give to this program. Besides all of the other wonderful things I have learned from Becky Jo, the biggest is certainly this. Just like she gave up her life at home to come to Mobile and transform this program, I know that I will never want to stop giving back to the program and people that have given me so very much. I’m speaking for each and every Distinguished Young Woman in the nation when I say thank you, Becky Jo Peterson, for showing us what a true distinguished individual really is, and that we too can touch and inspire lives just like you have done for us. 


Veronica Townsend is a student at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware majoring in Fashion Merchandising. Originally from Dagsboro, Delaware, Veronica was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Delaware for 2011. Learn more about Veronica here!

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