Haley Tye was 3 years old when she first decided she was going to be Clark County’s Distinguished Young Woman, formerly known as Junior Miss.
She was crowned as the winner during a rehearsal and demonstration of the format for the local program that year by Donna Fuller, who still oversees the program in Clark County.
Later that evening, Tye announced to her family she was the new Junior Miss.
Now Tye is a senior at George Rogers Clark High School and her title is a bit more official. This weekend, she will travel to Lexington to live with a host family for a week before representing Clark County at the state Distinguished Young Woman program Jan. 11-12.
“She’s a sweetheart inside and out, and we, as a committee, are honored to be traveling this journey with her,” said Fuller.
Since becoming the Clark County Distinguished Young Woman in June, Tye has been working on her fitness, studying current events and becoming more comfortable with public speaking. She has spoken to students at Providence Elementary and Clark Middle School about the DYW “Be Your Best Self” program and will participate in a mock interview.
“I love the interview. It’s actually one of my favorite parts. I¿just view it as a conversation,”¿Tye said.
The DYW program emphasizes academics and poise, rather than appearance like traditional beauty pageants. Participants have the opportunity to earn scholarship money for their performance in five different categories: scholastic, fitness, interview, talent and self-expression.
According to the DYW organization, there are local programs in every state, with more than 400 competitions each year. In 2009, Clark County Junior Miss Michelle Rodgers was named the national Junior Miss, and several Clark County participants have placed highly at the state level.
“We just want her to have a good time and feel good about what she did,” Fuller said of Tye’s performance at state. “She is the total package.”
For her talent, Tye will perform “Whitewater Chopsticks”¿on the piano, a piece she learned for the local program. In the self-expression category, she will speak about the importance of time, and making every second count. Tye also will participate in an optional essay contest, “Empowering Tomorrow’s Future,” writing about the leadership Fuller has provided the program, and her personal influence on Tye.
So far, the experience has been “surreal,” Tye said.
“It’s been a long time coming, just getting on that stage,” Tye said.
Because of her mother’s former involvement with the Junior Miss and DYW committees, Tye said she has attended the state program every year since she was 4. Watching the program has always been one of the highlights of her year, and now she is anxious to experience it as a participant.
“Getting to experience it is winning in itself,” Tye said.
Tye is the daughter of Willy and Terry Tye. Her host family for the week will be Jennifer and John Salsman, 4093 Palmetto Drive, Lexington, KY 40513.
Tickets for the DYW preliminary and final competitions at the Singletary Center for the Arts are available at finearts.uky.edu/singletary-center/events.
Contact Rachel Gilliam at firstname.lastname@example.org.