GREEN RIVER — Emmalee Skinner started her senior year at Green River High School as the Distinguished Young Woman of Wyoming for the Class of 2021.
The honor isn’t just for her, though. It’s also for her classmates, her community, and people throughout her state.
Emmalee was named the Distinguished Young Woman of Wyoming after winning a statewide virtual contest conducted via video submissions and Zoom meetings during the summer.
Finishing in first place doesn’t just mean scholarship money and recognition for Emmalee — it means she has a job to do for the benefit of others.
Now and throughout the coming year, she will serve as a role model and spread the Distinguished Young Women’s national outreach message of “Be Your Best Self.” The outreach program is designed to encourage self esteem and excellence in young people through its five principles: be healthy, be involved, be studious, be ambitious, and be responsible. She will also represent the state at various public events.
Emmalee is already passing on the “Be Your Best Self” lesson through example by “working hard to achieve great things and encouraging others to do the same.”
It is a full time job.
In addition to her studies, Emmalee is a member of the National Honor Society, competes in high school tennis, performs in the color guard for the marching band, and works at Arctic Circle. She plans to participate in theater as well — just as she has in years past.
During the Distinguished Young Women contest, Emmalee earned extra points based on the difficulty of the courses she’s taken in high school. This semester, she’s enrolled in AP calculus — her most difficult class.
“So that has been a challenge, especially trying to recall all the math learned after not using it for months,” Emmalee said. “But after getting back into the swing of things, it’s been getting a lot easier. Other than that, the year hasn’t been too difficult.”
Emmalee decided her senior year would include competing on the tennis team for the first time. The experience has been great, according to Emmalee. She is learning a lot, the team is very supportive, and everyone gets along great, she said.
“My partner and I are both new but we are having a great time and even won all our games against Rock Springs!”
Emmalee is grateful to be able to attend school again. She has always loved learning new things, and she missed the social interaction when schools were closed in March.
“I have enjoyed being with other students again and seeing people being excited to be back,” Emmalee said. “Usually, energy is low and people aren’t wanting to be at school, but the energy shifted after being away for five months. People seemed to really want to be back.”
Emmalee was familiar with the Distinguished Young Women contest because her mom and sister had both previously competed. Emmalee said the contest helps women obtain a higher education by awarding scholarships that can be used at any college.
Competing took a lot of time and work, but was an “incredible” experience, Emmalee said. She enjoyed meeting other top high school students and getting a glimpse into their lives, even if they had to connect virtually.
Seven Wyoming high school senior girls competed to represent the state as the Distinguished Young Woman of Wyoming for 2021. The statewide scholarship program was conducted virtually through Zoom and video submissions the week of July 27 with the finals and awards announcement on Aug 1.
Participants were evaluated in the categories of scholastics, 25%; interview, 25%; talent, 20%; fitness, 15%; and self-expression, 15%.
Emmalee finished in the top two in four of the five categories. She received a $3,000 scholarship for winning and $150 scholarships each for finishing in the top two in four categories for a total of $3,600 in cash scholarships.
For the talent portion, Emmalee choreographed her own 90-second dance to the song “You Will Be Found” from the Broadway musical “Dear Evan Hansen.” She especially enjoyed the talent contest because it gave her the opportunity to challenge and express herself in a new way. It was a difficult yet rewarding achievement. She also choreographed her own routine for the fitness contest.
In the self expression category, contestants were asked how they intended to implement the Cowboy Code of Conduct, including such directives as keeping promises, in their lives. Each had 24 hours to come up with a 30-second answer.
Emmalee decided to give judges a concrete example to show how she was already implementing the code. She said just the night before, she took the time to help a neighbor even though she was busy and needed to prepare for the competition. She also told them that she intended to take notes and set reminders in order to help in her quest to fulfill the Cowboy Code.
Emmalee looks forward to getting the “Be Your Best Self” message out in the days ahead and publicizing the Distinguished Young Women contest so that more young women will participate.
In February or March of 2021, Emmalee needs to make a presentation to her community about the Distinguished Young Women Program and the “Be Your Best Self” message.
She also plans to go on to compete in the Distinguished Young Women national finals June 24-26, 2021 in Mobile, Alabama. Emmalee and the 50 other representatives from across the U.S will participate in personal development activities and community service projects before competing to become the Distinguished Young Woman of America for 2021. Emmalee said she is excited to go and meet so many other incredible young women from around the country.
Emmalee wants to work as a dental hygienist. She has not yet decided where she will attend college to pursue that goal. She is the daughter of Bradlee and Melissa Skinner.
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
Founded in 1958, Distinguished Young Women is a free program that encourages participants to reach their full individual potential. Its mission is to empower young women by providing more than $1 billion in scholarship opportunities and developing their self confidence to prepare them for success after high school.
Kentucky’s Elif Ozyurekoglu was named the Distinguished Young Woman of America for 2020 and received more than $33,000 in cash scholarships to be applied toward her college education. For more information on Distinguished Young Women of Wyoming, contact Sarah Robles at firstname.lastname@example.org.