Julia Carlson of Omaha will travel to Mobile, Ala., this month to compete in the Distinguished Young Women National Finals.
The name of the competition may not be familiar; it used to be America’s Junior Miss. Carlson said the name was changed in 2010 to reflect the goals of today’s young women.
Judging is based on scholastics (20 percent), interview (25 percent), fitness (15 percent), talent (25 percent) and self-expression (15 percent). Although the finals are June 28 to 30, Carlson will leave for Mobile on Sunday. Over two weeks she will participate in team-building activities and community service projects. There also will be sightseeing and many hours of rehearsal for the scholarship pageant.
The winner will get a $40,000 scholarship, first runner-up a $25,000 scholarship and second runner-up a $15,000 scholarship. Other finalists will receive $3,000 scholarships.
Carlson said she could really use a scholarship because she will be paying out-of-state tuition at the University of Minnesota, where she will study biological sciences. She won $1,800 in the state contest.
She got interested in trying out for the competition when a fellow dance student brought it up.
“She got me involved,” she said. “But I didn’t know what I was getting into.”
Not only do competitors have to perform a talent and write an essay, but they also have to do community service with a “Be Your Best Self” project. Carlson worked with third- and fourth-graders in the Boys & Girls Club.
She performed a dance routine for the state competition but will do a comedic monologue for the nationals. “I wanted to stand out,” she said, adding that she expects several of the contestants to dance. “I think I’m a better actress than I am a dancer.”
She credits some of her studies in high school for getting her as far as she has in the competition. She took theater for two years. “I’m fairly shy, not extremely outgoing. Theater was beneficial.”
Carlson also was involved in DECA, a work-study program to encourage marketing students. She likes the problem-solving aspect of it, and she got competition experience, finishing in the top 10 in selling presentation at the international DECA competition in Salt Lake City. What did she sell the judges? A wedding in a hotel venue.
She also credits her family. “I’m close to my parents,” she said, adding that even though her parents divorced and she has divided her time between them, her parents have remained friends and their families often spend holidays together.
“I have wonderful friends,” Carlson said. They have fun spending time at one friend’s lake house and doing silly things like making their own “Call Me Maybe” video.
“I can come off as shy and quiet,” she said. “But I have a goofy, nerdy sense of humor.”
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