Mary Bullwinkel

Beacon Correspondent

Two young ladies from Fortuna recently returned from the Distinguished Young Women of California Competition in Bakersfield, calling it inspirational, amazing, and incredible.

In the local competition in Scotia in March of this year, Jennifer Cahill was selected as the 2013 Distinguished Young Woman from Humboldt County, and Rachel Hess was the 2013 Distinguished Young Woman of the Redwood Coast region. They joined 31 other young ladies from throughout California at the state competition July 26-28.

It didn't seem to matter that neither picked up additional scholarships at the state competition. “Although I didn't win any money, I felt like I won so much more,” Cahill said. “It was a great chance to wander from my comfort zone and try something totally different.”

Hess said attending the state competition was “an amazing part of my summer. I am so glad I participated in this program and was able to make it to state. It was truly a rewarding experience.”

The girls spent 10 days in Bakersfield, practicing and then performing in the program. They were judged in five categories: fitness, interview, self-expression, talent, and academics.

While participating in the state event, the girls stayed with host families and both spoke highly of their newfound friends. “When they say your host family adopts you for the week, they weren't kidding,” Cahill said; her host family also happened to have the last name of Cahill. “They took care of me the entire time, making sure I was comfortable and happy,” she added.

Hess said the family she stayed with was wonderful, adding, “All of the volunteers, our mama hens, host families, and big sisters spoiled us.”

Debbie Mitchell Porwoll is the State Chairman of Distinguished Young Women of California and she described Cahill and Hess as “excellent representatives for their communities. Not only are they intelligent, talented and community oriented, Porwoll said, “but they are warm and positive young women who most certainly will make a difference in our world!”

Local program coordinator Lisa Losey said the skills from this program give the girls an advantage in applying for scholarships and with job interviews. “It teaches the girls interview skills,” Losey said, “So they are comfortable talking in front of strangers.” Echoing that statement Hess said, “The DYW program definitely helped me with my interviewing skills, which I will use in the future, and also helped spike my interest in current events.” Cahill said of the program and participation in the state competition, “I gained valuable life skills that I'll always treasure, and made friendships and memories that will last forever.”

Both Cahill and Hess encourage others to participate in the Distinguished Young Woman program. The competition is open to all Humboldt County girls who are juniors in High School, and the next local program will take place in March 2013.

Photo Caption:

Submitted photo

Katrina Cahill with state Sen. Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield, speaking at the Mayor's Luncheon in Bakersfield, while attending the Distinguished Young Women of California competition.