What is Distinguished Young Women?

The Distinguished Young Women of Minnesota Scholarship program is an official preliminary for the Distinguished Young Women (DYW) of America Scholarship program. More than 750,000 young women across the nation have participated in DYW 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 County, Winona County, or Ivanhoe) or through an At-Large event. An At-Large event is reserved for young women without a local program to experience the fun and rewarding parts of Distinguished Young Women and have the opportunity to qualify for the state program.

No matter the format, it is always free to participate, and you will learn and practice life skills, meet like-minded women from around the state, and be challenged to Be Your Best Self. Distinguished Young Women strives to be a once in a lifetime experience where you are recognized for your achievements, encouraged in your leadership endeavors, and supported as you pursue higher education.

Please take advantage of several video resources on the DYW YouTube channel (YouTube.com/DistinguishedYW) that contain tips and lessons for preparing for our program. We also encourage you to explore the Life Skills videos posted that cover a variety of topics and give you a taste of what we can offer.

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. Check your inbox for a welcome email within a month of completing your online application. If you don’t see it, double-check that distinguishedyw.org isn’t blocked by your spam filter.

2. 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.

3. Program: arrive at the designated location on-time and prepared for a ​full day​ including (but not limited to); orientation, judging, life-skills workshops, and more!

4. After your program: award recipients will be announced (when applicable), as well as those who have qualified to move on to the state and/or national programs.

5. After your participation is complete: become a part of the Distinguished Network and tap into the talents and expertise of intelligent, talented, and driven women across the country.

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

Evaluation Criteria: Participants are evaluated by a panel of judges in the following categories in all DYW programs: Scholastics (25%), Interview (25%), Talent (20%), Fitness (15%), and Self-Expression (15%). Scores are given on an individual basis against the criteria listed below. At no time are participants evaluated against another.

  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.
  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.

National Sponsors