The 49th scholarship program for centre county’s young women and the 16th annual Centre County Outstanding Young Woman Program will be held at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28 in the Bellefonte Area High School auditorium.
The purpose of the OYW Program is to recognize and encourage excellence among young women by spotlighting their accomplishments and assisting with their educational goals.
The program offers numerous opportunities to strengthen their future, according to CCOYW program director Linn Ripka. Ripka said that finalists — who are selected in the spring from a pool of high school juniors from across the county who have applied — win scholarships, improve public speaking ability, sharpen interview skills and develop a greater awareness of self. This program’s goal is to build character, strengthen values, improve self-confidence and encourage high school senior girls to set and achieve goals, she said.
“I have been involved in this program for about 25 years or so; (I) have lost count,” Ripka said in an email. “I first became involved when we were Junior Miss (now Distinguished Young Woman) and then continued when we dissolved our association with Junior Miss and moved forward as CCOYW.
“I am pleased that we are able to help young women to achieve their goals and dreams. We are so much more than just the scholarships. We help them to prepare for what comes after high school. The biggest reward I see is when those who are unsure of themselves blossom and gain confidence and self-esteem. Many of these young ladies continue to stay connected with each other for many years and some throughout their lifetimes.”
The nine finalists are judged in five categories, including community involvement, academics, physical fitness, personal presence and individual creative and performing art. The selection process employs a system by which each finalist is assigned a score ranging from 1 to 10 in each judging category by each judge. The finalists’ scores in each category are added, and the sum is then weighted according to that category’s percentage of the overall scoring. The weighted scores for each finalist are added, and the overall point totals serve as a guideline to determine the award recipients.
Among other prizes, finalists have the chance to compete for $3,550, which is double the amount of last year’s scholarships, Ripka said.
Tickets may be purchased from one of the finalists, or by visiting the program website at www.centrecountyoyw.org to contact one of the board members. Tickets can also be purchased the night of the program. The cost is $5.
In order of their contestant number, the finalists are:
No. 1: Emily Kuskowski, State College Area High School
The daughter of David and Ann Kuskowski, Emily would like to attend Penn State with the career goal of working in the health care industry or in law. Her talent will be dance.
No. 2: Jessica Brown, Bellefonte Area High School
The daughter of Randy and Wendy Brown, Jessica would like to attent Penn State with the career goal of becoming a music educator. She will perform a vocal talent.
No. 3: Kasandra Weiss, State College Area High School
The daughter of Richard and Kristie Weiss, Kasandra is undecided about her future career goals. Her talent will be dance.
No. 4: Haley Sasserman, Penns Valley Area High School
The daughter of Warren Sasserman and Vickie Marquardt, Haley would like to attend Juniata College. Her talent will be a reading/monologue.
No. 5: Aleah Wolfe, Bellefonte Area High School
The daughter of David Wolfe and Denise Martin, Aleah would like to attend Lock Haven University or Delaware Valley College with the career goal of becoming a veterinarian. She will perform a vocal talent.
No. 6: Lauren Eberly, Penns Valley Area High School
The daughter of Steve and Nancy Eberly, Lauren would like to pursue a career in biomedical engineering. She will perform a vocal talent.
No. 7: Jill Wess, State College Area High School
The daughter of Dennis and Elizabeth Wess, Jill would like to attend Penn State with the career goal of becoming a teacher. Her talent will be dance.
No. 8: Kaylee Corl, Pennsylvania Cyber School
The daughter of Richard and Kimberly Corl, Kaylee would like to pursue a career as a musician/singer/songwriter. She will perform a vocal talent.
No. 9: Lyndy Adamonis, State College Area High School
The daughter of John Adamonis and Mary Beth Auman, Lyndy would like to pursue a career in supply chain management. Her talent will be dance.