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Henderson teen takes national Distinguished Young Women stage

Stephanie Castrignano, 17, has the opportunity this month to win thousands of dollars in cash scholarships to help make her college dreams a reality.

“The part that sticks out to me about Distinguished Young Women is that they support well-rounded young women,” said Castrignano, of Henderson, who graduated last month from Las Vegas Academy of the Arts. “All women are good at multiple things, and being well-rounded is a critical aspect of life.”

Distinguished Young Women, known as America’s Junior Miss until 2010, was founded in 1958 as a way to reward young women who have graduated high school and seek to continue their education. The organization started small, in Mobile, Alabama, and soon had applicants from all over the country.

Distinguished Young Women has had over 770,000 young women participate in its competitions at local, state and national levels, according to its website. More than $108 million in cash scholarships have been awarded, the site states.

Castrignano found out about the program through a school counselor.

After winning the statewide competition March 2 at the Sun City MacDonald Ranch Community Center, Castrignano received $1,000 from the organization and will get $13,000 in scholarships every year, for four years, at Arizona State University. Castrignano was up against eight others at the state competition. 

At Arizona State, Castrignano plans to double major in dance and business communications, then pursue a career as a dance and business professional.

Castrignano said she has been in the studio practicing her dance routine for her talent portion of the Mobile competition; she has been getting coaching on interview skills and practicing fitness routines. Castrignano will compete against women from 49 other states.

“I am a little bit nervous because I know all of the other women are so talented, everyone is intelligent, but it is an amazing opportunity to have, and I am ready to create relationships with the other young women,” Castrignano said.

There are five judges.

Cindy Blatchford, state chairwoman for Distinguished Young Women, said her daughter, Taylor Blatchford, won the Nevada competition in 2018 and was granted scholarships that paid her full tuition to the University of Alabama. Cindy Blatchford added that the scholarships really took a burden off her family’s shoulders.

“It is little-known in Nevada, but I am participating as the state chair because I am giving back to the community that gave my family so much in scholarship money,” she said.

Contact Rachel Spacek at 702-387-2921 or rspacek@reviewjournal.com. Follow @RachelSpacek on Twitter.

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