Eleven of Rhea County’s high school juniors will be participating in the 2022 Distinguished Young Woman of Rhea County Scholarship Program.

These young women will compete on Saturday, May 15, at Rudd Auditorium on the campus of Bryan College for scholarships, which can be used at any college of the recipient’s choice.

The young women will be judged for their scholastic achievements, their talent exhibition, their self-expression and their fitness.

The judging criteria of the Distinguished Young Woman of Rhea County Program are the same as what participants face at the state and national level.

In a discussion with each Distinguished Young Woman candidate, the judges look for perception, a sense of values, clarity of expression, concern and ability in human relations. This interview portion of the competition makes up 25 percent of the participant’s total score.

A panel of qualified educators review and rate transcripts of grades and scores on scholastic tests and college entrance exams of each participant. Twenty percent of their total score is based on the scholastic portion of the evaluation.

The talent portion of the competition, which equals 25 percent of the participant’s final score, is based on originality, technical ability, appropriateness of the selection, costume and stage presence during their performance. A participant’s talent presentation can include a vocal or instrumental selection, visual art creation, a choreographed dance or other demonstrations of the participant’s abilities.

Grace under pressure, ability to communicate, confidence, naturalness in carriage, posture and poise are the criteria for the self expression portion of the competition. This portion of the judging is worth 15 percent.

The participants are also judged for their fitness. In this portion of the competition, their coordination, stamina, agility, posture and carriage are considered in an overall evaluation of health and physical well-being.

Finalists in the local competition earn between $500 and $3,500 in college scholarships. Participants also compete for three $100 scholarships awarded in each of the judged categories (scholastics, interview, talent, fitness, self-expression) as well as a $300 Rebecca Hilleary Essay Award Scholarship and a $500 Spirit Award Scholarship. The Spirit Award Scholarship is the only award in the competition where participants can nominate another participant who they feel exemplifies the spirit of this year’s program in attitude, enthusiasm and selflessness towards the other participants and the program.

The Rhea County Distinguished Young Woman Scholarship Program is part of a national program with the local winner moving on to compete in Tennessee’s Distinguished Young Woman Program in July. The national finals are held in June where the Distinguished Young Woman of America will be named.

The Distinguished Young Woman Program was founded in 1958 by the Mobile Junior Chamber of Commerce of Mobile, Ala.

The program will begin at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 15, and tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12.