It's About More than Scholarships - by Gabrielle

            As the second week is winding down for the 50 contestants in this year’s Distinguished Young Women scholarship program, only one will be chosen on Saturday night as the Distinguished Young Woman of America. So one may ask, “What does it mean to be the Distinguished Young Woman of America?” Well...there is no right or wrong answer to that. One of the great things about Distinguished Young Women is that the winner is not chosen based off of an ideal mold of what the title winner should look like or what her abilities must be. All of the girls in the program fit the title of Distinguished Young Women and Saturday night one will be chosen who represents all of the participants the best. What is great is that for two weeks one girl from each state brings the country together in celebration of not only who we individually are, but who we are as a country. A bystander inquiring about the program may ask the question, “What is the prize?” and one might answer, “Well, scholarship money of course.” But that is NOT the true answer. The real prize at the end of this is not given to one person, but rather shared by everyone who participated. Unlike money that can be spent within minutes, all of the girls walk away with memories. It is memories that were made with their compassionate host families, dedicated volunteers, patient police escorts, generous sponsors, driven committee members, amazingly talented choreographers, supportive Has-beens, and inspired girl scouts and fans. These relationships are ones that last forever, and after being in this program myself, I speak from experience. In two short weeks, so much happens in the structured schedule for these girls and all of it provides memories to last a lifetime. 

            Robert Gosnell, one of the choreographers from last year along with Casey Noblett and Gia Mongell, sent the girls and I an email letting us know he is thinking of us and remembering what a great time he had last year and that he left inspired by all of us. I remember how much fun I had dancing to our group number “Born this Way” by Lady Gaga. All of the participants got to dance on stage and be their own self, their BEST FIERCE self! The freestyle moments in between the steps represented each girl the best. It was our choreopgrahers that helped us look good and gave us bits of eight counts to be ourselves in front of thousands of family members, friends, and supporters throughout the country and in the host city, Mobile. I remember in one of the rehearsals the power had gone out, but we did not stop rehearsing, although we were all exhausted. Instead, we walked outside, and practiced in the parking lot. That is just one of the thousands of memories I walked away with.

            I came across a quote from one of my good friends and it reads, “We lose ourselves in the things we love, and often find ourselves there too.” It is with the help of everyone in the program that we find who we are and where we fit in, because everyone has their own piece to the puzzle. Without everyone’s passion for Distinguished Young Women, the program would not be what it is today.

Every single one of the 2012 participants is a piece to the puzzle. The participants are seen here making the US map, each representing their own state!!

            Talent is only half of the equation; the other half is using our surroundings to nurture our gifts. And guess what? All of the 50 participants are doing just that and helping others find their own paths too. I’m not psychic or anything, but I already know what will happen on Saturday. Another deserving young woman will be named the Distinguished Young Woman of America and follow right behind previous winners and the wonderful Katy Brock’s footsteps. She will represent her state, country, and most importantly the other girls with pride and empowerment. This is another marvelous memory that will be strung with the other ones and will surely last longer than any scholarship.

Stay Distinguished,

Gabrielle xoxo

Gabrielle Walter is a college freshman at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York majoring in Biology/Pre-medicine. Originally from East Amherst, New York, Gabrielle was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of New York for 2011. Learn more about Gabrielle here!

Back in Sweet Home Alabama - by Rachel

It feels so good being back in Sweet Home Alabama—where the tea is sweet and the accents are sweeter! It hardly feels like it’s been a whole year since it was the class of 2011 on the Civic Center’s stage. Just today, when I was watching the current Distinguished Young Women representatives rehearse on the stage, I thought I recognized some of my 2011 girls working on their kicks and practicing their sways for a few fleeting seconds. It has been a bittersweet experience to only have fifteen, including Katye Brock (Distinguished Young Woman of America 2011) of the original fifty girls back, but I wouldn’t trade it for all the Dew Drop hotdogs in the world. Being a Has Been and being presented with the opportunity to meet and encourage 3 or 4 girls is such a blessing. 

Left to right: Paige (Kentucky), Sierra (New Mexico), Me, Boni (Oregon)
The purpose of a Has Been is to be an ambassador of the Distinguished Young Women organization and make appearances that the current class can’t make. Also, part of the job of a Has Been is to act as a “big sister,” or a mentor, to not only the representative from our own state, but two other girls from states whose 2011 Distinguished Young Woman couldn’t be here, as well. Of course, I have Sierra Harland from New Mexico, and the two ladies that I have adopted for the week are Boni Yraguen from Oregon and Paige Wilson from Kentucky. I knew I would enjoy being a big to these amazing girls, but I had no idea the overwhelming emotions I would feel.  The first time I saw each of them under the spotlight, a lump the size of the state of Alabama crept into my throat. I was actually so emotional about seeing my girls on the stage simply running through their fitness routines that I started to tear up! Unless you have actually participated in one of these programs it is hard to understand the level of difficulty it takes to be in this program. It may seem pretty cookey, but just seeing their intensity and determination just floored me. Nothing could have made me more proud today.  I look so forward to seeing more about my passionate Sierra, talking more with spunky Boni, and getting to know sweet Paige more!

Rachel Williams is a college freshman at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico majoring in International Studies. Originally from Kirtland, New Mexico, Rachel was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of New Mexico for 2011. Learn more about Rachel here!


It's All About the Journey - by Gabrielle

As the school year comes to an end for our graduating seniors, so too does the journey for this year’s class of Distinguished Young Women. We work throughout high school to walk across that stage with the hope that we gained the proper resources to help us succeed in our career paths. One of the biggest preparations after the representatives win their state is for Nationals. Both of these work towards a common goal, but is the reward the action of walking across the stage or going to nationals? No..It is the journey. It is what both those two actions represent.

Arrival Ceremony at Mobile Regional Airport

These 50 young women in Mobile had the qualities of Distinguished Young Women before they received the title. It is the program they are a part of that is the medium for them to be recognized and do great work in the community. The program Distinguished Young Women celebrates these girls, who they are, and where they are going in life. Being on that stage among thousands of people is a collaboration of all the girls talents being shown to families, friends, and the community. All of these girls work so hard for others that this time is to celebrate them and all their accomplishments. After Distinguished Young Women, they will still be the girls they always were--hard working, strong headed, distinguished, divas!! Now they know they have a whole family of support for their continued goals and actions they want to conquer in life.

Love the Azalea Trial Maids with the big dresses-- after trying one on and knowing how heavy they are, I have so much more respect for these ladies.
My Mobile experience is one I will never forget! I have never been down south, so I can say that there is such thing as southern hospitality. From the lovely host families, mine being the McKinney’s, to the the volunteers and wonderful committee members. It is fact that sweet tea makes most anything better! Distinguished Young Women gave me the confidence I needed in knowing that people are always there to support you. Distinguished Young Women is a family that is strong in it’s core. We hold true to the test that we can be far away from each other and still be by each other’s side in spirit. So remember that you always can find the qualities of Distinguished Young Women inside of your hard work. Participate in this program and work to celebrate who you are while inspiring other young women that they have something special about themselves too.

The Red Group being silly--Love these girls!

Much Love ~ Gabrielle

Gabrielle Walter is a college freshman at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York majoring in Biology/Pre-medicine. Originally from East Amherst, New York, Gabrielle was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of New York for 2011. Learn more about Gabrielle here!

BFFs - by Alessa

Last summer I remember the only thing on my mind whenever I thought of college was: how am I going to make friends.

Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I have had the same four best friends since I was in the 4th grade. Growing up we were inseparable, so the thought that we were all headed to different colleges worried me. At this point, we had all been friends for eight years and I was convinced I had no idea how to make new friends. 

To my surprise, forming new friendships was much easier than I could have ever imagined. I was blessed to instantly hit it off with my roommate, Becca. We had so much in common. Most importantly, we were both afraid that we were not going to make any new friends. So we stuck together and made a point to say hi to every person we saw while walking around campus. 

Before I knew it, I found myself surrounded by people that I consider my best friends. Coming from the girl who was convinced she was going to spend the next four years stuck in her dorm room friend-less, this was something I never expected.

After over analyzing for months and months, I learned that the easiest way to make new friends is to be you. 

Alessa Strelecki is a college freshman at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa majoring in Secondary Education and Mathematics. Originally from West Des Moines, Iowa, Alessa was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Iowa for 2011. Learn more about Alessa here!

Reminiscing and Looking Forward - by Hannah

It’s time for National Finals!! I cannot believe it has been an entire year since I represented Mississippi at the Distinguished Young Women program.  A lot has certainly happened during this year, and I am so excited to be able to go back and see Mallory Pitts, the 2012 Distinguished Young Woman of Mississippi, as she performs at the Mobile Civic Center.  The Distinguished Young Women program is very popular in my state, and our state program is always a grand event; however, there is nothing like being able to participate and attend National Finals in Mobile, Alabama.  The entire city comes together to put on the program and entertain the participants for two weeks.  When I first got to Mobile, I was very nervous about meeting and getting along with the other girls, not to mention the fact that I was going to be away from home for two weeks!  My nerves quickly settled as I made new friends and memories with the 49 other participants.  One of my most favorite outings at National Finals was going to Wintzell’s Oyster House for the oyster eating competition and then going to the beach.  Being from Southern Mississippi, I go to the beach several times a year, but some girls from more northern states had never seen a beach!!  The day we had at the beach was a relaxing time and gave all the girls an opportunity to unwind and just get to know more about each other as well as their host families.

All 50 of us on stage following the opening number.

The class of 2012 might be nervous as they get to know one another in Mobile, and will certainly be nervous as they walk onto the Civic Center stage for the first time, but the memories they create will last a lifetime.  The night before my family drove me to Mobile, I became very nervous and really just wanted to stay at home, and I remember my father telling me that participating in National Finals is a privilege that only 50 girls get each year; simply attending the finals is an honor.  The national participants have received a wonderful gift in being able to compete nationally and meet a new friend from every state in America.

The top 10 finalists - I am in the blue dress, 5th from the right.
This all sounds pretty fun, doesn’t it??  Over 700,000 girls (and counting) have participated in this program, and you should be one of them!  Not everyone will get to go to the National Finals, but this should be each girl’s goal.  After all, even if you shoot for the moon and miss, you will still land among the stars.  Good luck to all the participants in this year’s National Finals, make the most of every minute!

Hannah Roberts
Distinguished Young Woman of Mississippi for 2011

Hannah Roberts is a college freshman at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi majoring in Biochemistry with a Pre-medical emphasis. Originally from Mount Olive, Mississippi, Hannah was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Mississippi for 2011. Learn more about Hannah here!

A Family That Never Stops Growing - by Allii

I participated in Distinguished Young Women during my senior year of high school. Rhode Island, being the smallest state, did not have many participants that year. I won my medallion while competing alongside 2 other girls. I became close with them, as well as my state committee! But then, I also became incredibly close with Connecticut’s Distinguished Young Woman, Val Voccio. We could not be separated for the months before Nationals.

Me and Val
My road to Nationals only showed me how much my family would be growing over the next few months. I met Val Austin from Nationals and of course, Mama Lynn Underhill. They were only a taste of what was to come. I had no idea that Nationals itself would be 10x more intense!

All of us at the Wintzell's Golf Tournament.
Upon stepping off of the airplane in Mobile, Alabama, I added 49 new sisters to my family before I even knew their names. It was that easy. I knew that those girls would look out for me, and I them. To this day we all still talk and keep each other up to date on our lives. But the growing did not end there.

Backstage fun!
I met so many more people during my two weeks that I could never possibly forget. There was my lovely roommate, Rebecca of Maryland, my PHENOMENAL host family, the Dekles, my backstage mom, my amazing choreographers, my driver, the two amazing police officers who kept me laughing everyday, and every National committee member!

There were two people who I owe so much more to than I could ever give. Jessica and Bill Barrick are the reason that I was able to come to Nationals. They were my state sponsors and I try to keep in contact as much I can! They were instrumental in my experience. They came to every appearance and I cannot thank them enough! 

Me and my States Club Sponsor, Bill Barrick.
Becky Jo, the soul behind Distinguished Young Women, keeps this program alive and none of us would be here without her! Although she is retiring this year, she holds a place in my family. I will never forget the push up contest we had at the beach! She will be dearly missed but her legacy will continue on!

Celebrating my 18th birthday at Nationals was crazy! People from all over the country wrote on my card and hugged me. I watched my family grow into hundreds that day! It is an unreal feeling to see people from across the country bond over the Nationals experience!

After Nationals I began planning my RI 2012 program. It was bitter-sweet, but my family grew again! I now get to watch my “little-sister” Chandler Cross compete at Nationals. I will be returning as a Has-Been! I get to return with 15 of my sisters and meet a whole new group of 49 girls who I am sure will quickly become a part of my family.

Distinguished Young Women is literally a family that will never stop growing. There is always a new class to “induct” and an old class to get to know. It will never end. I am so proud to consider myself a part of a family that will always be there no matter where I am. Whether I’m in North Pole, Alaska, or Miami, Florida, I know that there is always a place to visit or stay. There is nothing I regret about Distinguished Young Women. It is however something I think twice about…and three times about and a lot about! Whenever I can, I talk about how much Distinguished Young Women has changed my life.

I hope that every young girl who knows about this program participates in it somehow. It is life changing no matter your participation level. My family will never stop growing and I hope you all have a chance to join it one day! I can’t say I’ll ever miss it, because it will never end! Distinguished Young Women is just that family that will keep on giving!

Remember to keep the spirit alive forever and always!
Allii Fontaine
Distinguished Young Woman of Rhode Island 2011 <3 

Allii Fontaine is a college freshman at Elmira College in Elmira, New York majoring in Nursing with a Pediatric tract. Originally from Burrillville, Rhode Island, Allii was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Rhode Island for 2011. Learn more about Allii here! 

The Gift of Spirit - by Kinsey

At approximately 9:07 p.m. on June 25th, 2011, my life changed dramatically.  The final awards were being announced at the 54th National Finals of the Distinguished Young Women program.  David Weincek began to describe the next award to be revealed: the Phyllis Whitenack Spirit Award.  David explained that the Spirit Award was selected by the participants themselves; each young woman voted for the person they felt best embodied the spirit of Distinguished Young Women (DYW).  I remember my heart beating slightly faster, hardly daring to dream that my name might be called.  David looked down at his card of results and said: “And the Spirit Award winner is……. Ohio! Kinsey Crow!”

I started crying instantly as I tried to make it to the front of the stage without falling over.  I was incredibly humbled and honored to receive the award, but I never dreamed the impact that the entire experience would have on my life.  Prior to participating in Nationals, I didn’t use my gift of “spirit” and encouraging nature intentionally.  I never fully realized the way that I can have a direct impact on peoples’ lives – even in a time period as short as two weeks.  However, when I was chosen for the Spirit Award, I finally realized that the Lord had given me a very special ability in my “spirit”, and He wanted me to use it for the good of others. This realization is the most important thing that I have learned through my experience with DYW: that I have a voice, an influence, and an opportunity to bring out the best in others!

As my last blog post for the DYW blog comes to a close, I want to encourage you to remember the voice that you have to be a light to those around you!  Sometimes we may feel insignificant and unknown, but the truth is that we have the power to make the world a better place by encouraging those in need.  I am so grateful for Distinguished Young Women, which helped me to fully realize my potential, and I pray that you will realize how special your gifts are – and use them for good!  As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”  I hope that you will join me in striving to be that “someone”, making the world a brighter place, for the rest of our lives!

Kinsey Crow is a college freshman at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama majoring in Nursing. Originally from Mount Vernon, Ohio, Kinsey was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Ohio for 2011. Learn more about Kinsey here!

How to Have the Perfect Summer - by Veronica

As the school year wraps up, each of us finish up our freshman year of college, our senior year of high school, graduate, or just end a tough year filled with work, the absolute greatest time of the year is here – summer. Just a few sweet months filled with warm weather and fun times seems to fly by quicker each year, and always holds the potential to be the best summer of them all. Truly take advantage of this fabulous time of the year and have the greatest summer possible!

1)     Get a job – Since I live in a beach town, my friends have always had summer jobs for as long as I can remember. Although we all work hard catering to the large masses of beach goers, it truly is a great way to spend your extra summer time. Future employers will think it’s great if you had a previous work experience, and who doesn’t like making some money? And just because you have to work a little bit doesn’t mean you can’t have time for summer fun!

2)     Go on a trip – The summer is a great time to travel! With all the free time, the possibilities are endless. You can plan a getaway or even a road trip with your friends. I personally will be spending part of June traveling to one of the greatest places in the world – Mobile, Alabama for this year’s Distinguished Young Women National Finals!

3)     Make a list – As soon as I reunite with my best friends once we return home for the summer from college, the first thing we plan on doing is making an ultimate summer to-do list. Ranging with all sorts of fun activities, we want to do things we never have done before and truly live our lives to the fullest! Make a list of all the things you want to do this summer so you can have sort of a checklist going and plan for a fantastic summer!

4)     Attend a concert – There’s almost nothing better than attending a fun summer concert with family or friends! Taking advantage of the warm weather and good music is a fabulous combination certainly designed for a great time. Each year, the Delaware State Fair has some awesome performers come to town, and I plan on hitting up a country concert or two this summer!

5)     Volunteer – Why not take advantage of your extra time this summer and put it to a good cause? Research some local volunteer opportunities and gather up some friends in order to help those less fortunate than yourselves. Volunteering will not only make you put a smile on someone else’s face, but will certainly make you feel great about yourself.

6)     Relax – After a long year filled with school, I plan on spending the absolute maximum amount of time possible lying by the beach, spending time with my friends and family, driving down the coastal highway in my car with the windows down, and just loving and appreciating life! Regardless, summer is a time to take a break from the hard school life, so make your summer enjoyable and take it easy!

Above all else, have a fun-filled and distinguished summer and make memories that will last a lifetime! 

Veronica Townsend is a college freshman 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!

National Finals Time!!!

It is an exciting time of year for Distinguished Young Women!! On Sunday, June 17, we welcomed 50 of the nation’s most accomplished young women to Mobile, Alabama for the 55th Distinguished Young Women National Finals. For the next two weeks, the participants (one from each state) will take part in a variety of activities in and around the Port City including team building, community service and rehearsals for the National Finals production. The Distinguished Young Woman of America for 2012 will be named on Saturday, June 30, 2012.

We invite you to take part in the excitement of National Finals!!

Check in on the Be Distinguished Blog over the next two weeks. Our contributors will be reflecting on their experiences last year at National Finals as members of the Class of 2011.

Enter our National Finals ticket give-away on Facebook! We are giving away 2 tickets to each show night (1st Prelims, 2nd Prelims, and Finals Night) to 3 of our individual followers on Facebook! All you have to do is LIKE our page and leave a comment on the ticket give-away post saying why you love Distinguished Young Women and we will do a random draw for the winners on Monday, June 25, 2012. One person will win the Thursday night, one will win Friday night, and one will win Saturday night tickets. Share this giveaway with your friends and good luck!

Follow all of the action on Facebook and Twitter! We will be posting real-time photos of the participants at various events, sharing video clips and linking to news stories and coverage of National Finals. LIKE us on Facebook and FOLLOW us on Twitter!

Keep up with all of the participants’ activities by checking out the event photos from our official photographer, Fusion Point Media.

Tune in to see who will be named the Distinguished Young Woman of America! The final night of competition featuring the top 10 finalists in the categories of talent, fitness and self-expression will be streamed live on Saturday, June 30 at 8/7C. You can watch by visiting

Meet the Class of 2012!! Visit the Distinguished Young Women website to learn about each of the participants taking part in the 55th National Finals.

A Part of Me, A Part of You - by Veronica

The sweet, melodic sound of the crashing waves drifts me into a light sleep whilst my body succumbs to the bright summer sun.  Seagulls cry somewhere nearby, as harmonious country music tunes drift throughout the air. The grittiness of the sand, the warm sun beating down, the light ocean breeze, bronzed skin and sea water tangled hair – this is the life I know. A born and raised beach bum, I’ve been fortunately bred right within distance from the ocean. Summers to me are eternally reminiscent of long days by the water, catching some rays with my family and friends, and cooling off with some memorable summer nights.
There’s a saying that goes, “You can shake the sand from your feet, but you can’t shake it from your soul.” Throughout my time in college, my heart ached for my home at the beach. While many can say that they vacation here during the summers, or come to visit on the weekends, living by the ocean year round is something that has greatly impacted my life. Some get to experience the pleasure of knowing the fulfilling sensation of their first beach sun tan, the lasting scent of sunscreen, summer barbeques and seafood, and suddenly – it’s gone, and they are back to their real homes. Perhaps it was being away at school for an entire year and not having the beach at my fingertips, but it seems that each year I grow more and more appreciative for my beach life. It’s more than just a location to me; it’s a way of life. It’s all about that sand that you can’t seem to ever rid from your car seats, those talks in the lifeguard stands after dusk, the blanket you always keep in your trunk that has seen both winter and summer days in the sand, and so much more. It’s a true beauty that lives within your soul, which exists deep in your heart and will stay there with each beat, just like the waves crashing on the shore.
Don’t you just have that one place you always can run to? Somewhere you have grown up, is filled with memories and the hope of more to be made, and seems to be such a part of you that you won’t ever be able to shake it away? Don’t lose that. Reflect upon a place that has meaning like this to you. We live in a beautiful world filled with fantastic creations that are meant to be cherished and revered, and as we grow up, we don’t have to leave them behind. Just like I hope to hold onto my perpetual beach bum mentality, grasp that place that has been with you since your childhood, or perhaps is a place you have just been introduced to. Appreciate it, the people there, the laughs, the memories, and you will find a deep gratitude for something more than just a place, but a way of life. Each one of us is unique and possesses a life filled with past experiences that have made us who we are. Embrace your roots because they will stick with you for life. Stop and really appreciate the beauty in something that has always been with you and don’t ever take it for granted. Time goes by fast and we grow up quicker than we would have ever thought to be possible.  Life is a beautiful thing and if we all were to take the time to appreciate it, perhaps we would be happier people. 

Veronica Townsend is a college freshman 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!

Happy Summer Time - by Rachel

It’s summer time for most of us, and almost summer time for the rest of you! Some may already have summer plans with elaborate vacations or rigorous work schedules. Now is the time for those of you that don’t have plans to figure out how you’re going to pass these lovely sunny days. I have a few suggestions!

1.      Wake up at a reasonable hour
I know, I know, it’s summer time and you can sleep in all you want, right? WRONG. If you sleep in too late in the morning you’ll just end up feeling lethargic the rest of the day. Also your days will feel much longer if you wake up by 9 -- making the summer last!

2.     Make a reading list
When I was in high school I tried to read at least 10 books a summer. (I’m working on accomplishing that goal this summer too!) It’s always fun to catch up with the favorites like Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Eragon, etc… but try to find some books that will broaden your scope. Look for books that are set in countries that you are interested in, or perhaps find books that are related to the field of study you are interested in.

3.     Establish a movie night with the family
Movies are a favorite during summer time, so how about combining much needed family time with a movie night? Whether it is on Monday nights or Friday nights, turn off those phones and put away the computers. Just enjoy a night in with the fam with some popcorn and a creative dessert. 

4.     Take weekly trips to the local pool
I’m not just telling you this because I’m a lifeguard, even though I am pretty partial to swimming, going to the pool is a great pass-time. Swimming works muscles that you don’t typically use, and you can exercise without it really seeming like you are. There are all sorts of water games and toys to be played with now that I wish I had when I was younger. Don’t you forget: if the pool is outdoors lather on the waterproof sunscreen!

5.     Visit National Parks or Museums in your area    
During the summer time, National Parks and Museums are really good with specials. Utilize the discounted admission prices (sometimes FREE admission) to learn more about your town/state/country, or simply admire the beauty of the National Parks. I am amazed by how much I learn from a trip to a museum, even if I’ve been there before.

I hope these quick tips get you inspired and excited for the summer! I hope you all have a summer to remember!

Remember: just because school is out it doesn’t mean learning stops! 

Rachel Williams is a college freshman at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico majoring in International Studies. Originally from Kirtland, New Mexico, Rachel was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of New Mexico for 2011. Learn more about Rachel here!