by SETU PATEL
The Distinguished Young Women Program, also known as DYW, was first founded in 1958 to honor high-school girls by rewarding them with scholarships for college. This year’s Cerritos-Artesia DYW competition was held on Sunday, April 30, at Whitney High School. At that competition, Senior Nethmi D’Alwis won the official title and proceeded to move onto the state level.
“I first went into the Cerritos-Artesia DYW competition to win the interview scholarship, the last thing I expected was to win the full title,” D’Alwis said.
When the state competition finally arrived over the summer, D’Alwis had a scheduling conflict since she was going to be in Sri Lanka for vacation. Knowing she could not miss this opportunity, D’Alwis flew over 30 hours from Sri Lanka to Bakersfield in order to attend the competition. When she arrived, she stayed with a host family along with two other contestants.
“My host family was so sweet, they were both retired psychologists and would always have food ready for us after practices.” D’Alwis said.
Being jet lagged and sick, D’Alwis still attended practices everyday before the competition began. She was competing against 30 other ASB Executive Presidents just like her.
“Going into the competition, I felt very confident but it was very scary because everyone surrounding me was just like me with the same experiences,” she said.
At the end of the competition, D’Alwis ended up winning the “Be Your Best Self” Scholarship, which is the DYW motto. This scholarship included $550 in cash at the state level, $2,000 dollars at the local level, and a full, renewable scholarship to Chapman University. After the competition, she returned to Sri Lanka to finish her vacation.
“On my way back to Sri Lanka, I didn’t sleep because I couldn’t believe I had won a scholarship.”