Lincoln County’s Distinguished Young Woman heads to state competition
Brookhaven student Jamie Sproles is headed to Meridian this weekend to represent Lincoln County in the Distinguished Young Women competition and said she is most excited about the prospect of making friends with like-minded young women from around the state.
“Getting to meet 34 other girls and making friends that can one day help you in the long run, is definitely really fun for me,” Sproles said. “For the week of competition, they take all phones and electronics to build relationships with the girls. I’ve heard past winners tell us about it, and I know it’s the best thing.”
Formerly titled Junior Miss, Distinguished Young Women is a national scholarship program that inspires high school girls to develop their full, individual potential through a fun, transformative experience that culminates in a celebratory showcase of their accomplishments. The program platform, the Be Your Best Self program, hinges on the young women encompassing the qualities of health, ambition, involvement, responsibility and studiousness.
Sproles won the title for Lincoln County at the DYW at-large program in Meridian, where young women from counties that don’t have a freestanding DYW program can compete for their county titles. The state competition is July 23 through 26 in Meridian.
A rising Brookhaven High School senior and daughter of Joanna and Tommy Sproles, Sproles said that this is her first experience with a pageant-style competition.
“This is the absolute first pageant-type thing I’ve ever done,” Sproles said. “[DYW] calls for a lot more — it’s about more than just teasing hair high enough. You have to be healthy, communicate well, think on your feet — it’s bigger.”
Though she doesn’t have pageant experience, Sproles grew up on the stage at the Brookhaven Little Theatre, where her parents frequently volunteer. She says theatre has helped her become her best self.
“Both of my parents have directed on stage, and I’ve been there ever since I was six,” Sproles said. “My grandmother did plays there. Having that family lineage there always brought me growth. Being on stage, being confident speaking in front of people has helped shape me into a better person.”
The Distinguished Young Women program is divided between an interview with judges, a performing arts talent portion, fitness and self-expression. For talent, Sproles will be performing the song “Good Morning Broadway” from the musical “Hairspray.”
“I sang when I was younger, took voice lessons,” Sproles said. “I decided I’m just going to pull singing out of the bag. Hairspray is my favorite musical. The character Traci is trying to be a dancer. She’s an ambitious girl and eventually reaches her dreams. She embodies the character of a Distinguished Young Woman.”
Sproles divides her time between many school activities, including formerly playing trumpet in band, National Honor Society, Speech and Debate groups, Girl Scouts, Youth Advisory Board for Tobacco Prevention, Mississippi Youth Council and Mississippi Scholastic Publication Association. She is on the BHS Tennis Team and has served as class president for two years.
For the future, Sproles sees herself attending the University of Mississippi after graduation and applying for the Lott Leadership Institute. She wants to major in English education and teach elementary school.
“My mother works with at risk students in high school to get them back on their feet,” Sproles said. “My mom asked a student, ‘What would you want, if we could give you anything in the world?’ He said he would want to be able to read. He slipped through the cracks. 70 percent of inmates can’t read. To me that’s really such a huge deal, for children to learn how to read and learn literature. Both of my parents are teachers. I’ve grown up tutoring and helping out in the classroom and I’ve known since I was two I wanted to be a teacher.”
Sproles said attending the Lott Leadership Institute for high school students led her to think about pursuing a path in public education policy.
“Maybe I want to do something beyond making a difference in one classroom and change policies within the state to make a bigger impact,” Sproles said.