What is DYW?

The Distinguished Young Women of Minnesota Scholarship program is an official preliminary for the Distinguished Young Women of America Scholarship program. More than 750,000 young women across the nation have participated in DYW (​formerly America’s Junior Miss)​ programs at the local, state, and national levels. ​DYW has over 60 years of scholarship experience, offering over ​1.1 billion dollars​ in scholarships annually.

Our Mission

To positively impact the lives of young women by providing a transformative experience that promotes and rewards scholarship, leadership, and talent. DYW is a national scholarship program that inspires high school girls to develop their full, individual potential through fun, transformative experiences that culminate in a celebratory showcase of their accomplishments, by:

• Encouraging continued education and providing college scholarships
• Developing self-confidence and the abilities to interview effectively, to speak to the public, to perform on stage, and to build interpersonal relationships
• Encouraging and showcasing excellence in academic achievement, physical fitness, performance skills, and the ability to think and communicate clearly
• Creating opportunities to benefit and inspire the lives of others


The Distinguished Young Women program begins with programs at the local level. In Minnesota, this can be within your local community (Kandiyohi CountyWinona County, or Ivanhoe) or through an At-Large event. We invite all young women from across the state to experience our program. ​It is always free to participate.​ Throughout the program, you will be evaluated in all five categories which you can find listed below.

You will also have the opportunity to participate in workshops covering interview and public speaking skills, personal wellness, college and career goals, and our national outreach program, Be Your Best Self. All of this while ​automatically qualifying you for our cash and/or college-granted ​scholarships​!

While taking part in the Distinguished Young Women of Minnesota programs at any level, participants will display their talents, improve their public speaking and interview skills, network with young women across the state and country, and be recognized for their outstanding achievements.

We hope you’ll join us!

Nationals Class of 2018 receiving preliminary scholarship awards.
Nationals Class of 2018 receiving preliminary scholarship awards.

The Process

The timelines below are intentionally vague as our program can change due to participant numbers, resources, and other factors. ​Keep a close eye on your email for details specific to YOU!

1. Apply online! This ensures that our Participant Coordinators can get the correct information to you regarding your particular program.

2. We will send a welcome email to the email address used in your online application ​within 7-14 business days. If you don’t see it, double-check that distinguishedyw.org isn’t blocked by your spam filter.

3. Prior to your program; complete and return paperwork to your Coordinator, attend necessary meetings and/or rehearsals as scheduled by your Coordinator, and reach out to your local team with questions or concerns.

4. Program Date: arrive at the designated location on-time and prepared for a ​full day​ including; orientation, evaluation (see ‘Evaluation Criteria’ below), life-skills workshops, and more!

5. After your program: ALL participants qualify for college-granted scholarships. Cash scholarships are awarded when available (​this varies per local program​), and State Finals invitations are announced to those who qualify.

Mya, 2019 Distinguished Young Woman of Minnesota
Mya, 2019 Distinguished Young Woman of Minnesota, performing her Talent.

Evaluation Criteria: Participants must complete each of the five categories listed below. At no time are participants evaluated against one another. Evaluation scores are given on an individual basis using the criteria listed below.

  1. SCHOLASTICS – 25% of evaluation​ – A scholastic judge reviews and rates your academic record including your grades, college entrance examinations, difficulty of class schedule and extracurricular involvement.
  2. INTERVIEW – 25%​ – You will have a ten minute interview with the judges that can cover everything from your Participant Profile to current events and your opinions on a variety of topics. Judges are looking for your ability to express yourself and communicate clearly. It is not a quiz. Attire should be suitable for a job interview.
  3. TALENT – 20%​ – ​This category is a 60 to 90-second presentation. The presentation can be any type of ​talent you are able to present to an audience​ such as dance, martial arts, poetry, vocal, instrumental, weight lifting, science experiment, “TED talk” slideshow, etc. ​The judges panel bases its evaluation on originality, technical ability, appropriateness of selection and costume, and stage presence during a performing talent.
  4. SELF-EXPRESSION – 15%​ – Participants respond to a question they receive prior to the showcase program. ​This is, in essence, a public speaking segment. ​The judges evaluate on the basis of content, clarity of response, public speaking ability/style and carriage/posture.
  5. FITNESS – 15%​ – ​Participants learn an energetic group fitness routine that includes elements of aerobics, yoga, and balance. You will perform the routine as a group with a solo ‘spotlight’ moment. ​The judges panel evaluates agility, coordination, stamina, and strength.

Cash scholarships are awarded based on individual merit. Past state scholarship awards can be found on the Class of 2020 Awards page. Participants at ALL levels qualify for College-granted Scholarships.

National Sponsors