Christina George
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May 4, 2014
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Roseburg High juniors Casey and Morrow win Distinguished Young Women titles

Sianna Delia Casey and Marrisa Morrow will represent Douglas County in the 2015 Distinguished Young Women of Oregon program after winning Saturday night.

Casey earned the Douglas County title, while Morrow was named Umpqua Valley Distinguished Young Woman in front of a full house in the Rose Theater at Roseburg High School.

“I’m so happy,” Casey said between hugs from friends. “I’m so proud of everybody. ... I am so happy to have been part of this.”

She said the program is about personal growth. “It’s helped me strive to a better future.”

Morrow and Casey received $2,000 scholarships from the Distinguished Young Women program and $500 scholarships from Umpqua Community College.

Instead of sparkling crowns, the two teens were given medals to wear around their necks.

“It’s super exciting,” Morrow said. “It’s an amazing program. I made so many great friends, and I learned so much.”

Alaina Le àndra Martinez was first runner-up, while Jazmyne Rene Strohm was second runner-up.

Other contestants were Haylie Corryne Ellison, Sierra Nicole Olson, Kristen Marie Sterner, Christina Marie Kelley and Magdalena Jean Swartzendruber.

All of the contestants are juniors at Roseburg High School, except for Swartzendruber, a junior at Oregon Connections Academy, and Kelley, a junior at South Umpqua High School.

The five judges took more than an hour to deliberate. Contestants were judged in five categories: personal interview, 25 percent; talent, 25 percent; scholastic achievement, 20 percent; self-expression, 15 percent; and fitness, 15 percent.

Participants were each asked two questions on stage, most of which focused on the program’s principles to be healthy, involved, studious, ambitious and responsible.

Swartzendruber said she strives to be ambitious, saying the program has “pushed me to try new things.”

Martinez said she is responsible by making sure she does her homework and chores daily. Morrow said she’s studious by getting the best grades and focusing on school work.

Olson said she stays healthy by staying in school and away from drugs, and “making myself better than I was yesterday.”

When asked about how to stop bullying, Strohm said she’d “teach people to love themselves and others.”

Ellison said the most challenging aspect of the program was getting out of her comfort zone.

Sterner said she stays involved by volunteering at Saving Grace Pet Adoption Center and at school. She said she believes her school needs to be more respectful and open.

Kelly said she feels the most important value parents can teach their kids is that “not every day is going to be perfect, and you have to smile no matter what you’re going through.”

Casey earned another $1,000 in scholarships for being the top scorer in the self-expression, scholastic, talent and interview phases of the contest.

Morrow also received $750 for winning the fitness category and being a finalist in the scholastic phase.

Martinez received $1,000 for being first runner-up, while Strohm won a $500 scholarship as second runner-up.

Kelly received $250 for winning the spirit award,

The state program will be Aug. 2 in Salem. The young woman selected as the state representative will compete in the national finals next year in Mobile, Alabama.

Since 1958, six Douglas County contestants have won the Oregon title and advanced to the national level. Roseburg’s Ally Malone took home the state title in 2012.

Rachel Hess is a former Miss Douglas County, another scholarship program, and now co-chairs Young Distinguished Women with her mother, Colleen Denny.

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity because you can only do it as a junior, and it really gets you thinking about college and who you are as a person,” Hess said. “It encourages girls to dig deep and find out who they are.”

Denny said it’s not just a beauty pageant. “It teaches young women to be their best selves,” she said.

Denny said she’s proud the program offers contestants a chance to earn scholarship money for college. This year, the girls raised $8,000 themselves from businesses and fundraisers.

According to its website, Distinguished Young Women is the largest and oldest national scholarship program for high school girls, awarding more than $100 million in cash scholarships at local, state and national levels. Participants also are eligible for college-granted scholarships from nearly 200 colleges and universities.


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The News-Review Updated May 4, 2014 01:20AM Published May 6, 2014 09:59AM Copyright 2014 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.