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 from across the nation have participated in Distinguished Young Women ​(D​YW, ​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.

Your Distinguished Young Women experience begins during your JUNIOR year of high school at the local level through either a local or At-Large experience. Local and At-Large programs make the Distinguished Young Women of Minnesota adventure accessible to all eligible young women. To participate in DYW, expect to meet paperwork due dates for items including a participant agreement, health form, and academic history that can be found under the ‘Library‘ tab. ​It is always free to participate.

Judging criteria, listed in the following section, for all stages of Distinguished Young Woman are identical. Distinguished Young Women is NOT a pageant program. Participants in DYW are not evaluated against one another. You are evaluated on your individual merit. ​The full list is found ​online​. Our DYW of MN for 2018, ​Gianna Rucki​, is currently taking advantage of a full-tuition scholarship to the University of Alabama, and the DYW of MN for 2019, Mya Hillerud, is enjoying the 4-year renewable scholarship to Gustavus Adolphus College.

Participants who meet the criteria after judges’ deliberation will be invited to participate in the Distinguished Young Women of Minnesota State Finals. This is typically a three to four day program held in the fall of your senior year. Past state classes have stayed with host families in the Twin Cities area while touring theaters, meeting with legislators at the State Capitol building, shadowing various careers, and more!

While participating in the Distinguished Young Women of Minnesota programs at the local and State levels, participants have opportunities to 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!


Evaluation scores are given on an individual basis against the qualifying criteria listed below. Examples of each category can be found on YouTube ​ At no time are participants evaluated as compared to each other.

  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 online biography 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. ​Your talent cannot exceed 90 seconds. If you are playing a musical instrument and you want to have accompaniment, it can only be the piano and must be a recording. Note: the use of Disney music is prohibited due to licensing. Everyone has a Talent… ask for ideas if you are unsure! 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