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Bryant, Counts-Kerby set for state competition

When 47 young women take the stage this week in Montgomery as part of the 2018 Alabama Distinguished Young Women competition, Russellville High School will be doubly represented.

Juniors Allison Bryant and Ellie Counts-Kerby both won local competitions to advance to the state level. Bryan will represent Franklin County and Counts-Kerby will represent Lawrence County.

The DYW state competition will take place January 19-20, with one young woman advancing to represent Alabama in the national competition later this year in Mobile, with a chance to win more than $100,000 in cash tuition scholarships.

Distinguished Young Women combines the chance to win scholarships with a program offering young women life skills training to prepare them for life after high school. It costs participants nothing to enter.

Participants take part in workshops to develop interviewing and public speaking skills, showcase their achievements and earn an opportunity to win scholarships. Last year, more than $42,000 was awarded to DYW participants in Alabama.

DYW participants are evaluated in the following categories: Scholastics (25%); Interview (25%); Talent (20%); Fitness (15%) and Self-Expression (15%).

Counts-Kerby is the daughter of Stephen and Marla Kerby. She resides in Town Creek but attends RHS, where she is captain of the varsity cheer squad. She also serves as head coach of the Student Booster Club, a Student Council class representative and treasurer of the National Honor Society. She's also involved with the Annual Staff, Mu Alpha Theta and is secretary of Future Business Leaders of America.

Her talent will be musical theater dance. Counts-Kerby plans to attend the University of Alabama and study biomedical engineering.

Counts-Kerby sees the DYW experience as a building block for her life well beyond high school.

I got involved in the Distinguished Young Women program not only to have the chance to win scholarships for my college education, but to be more prepared for life after high school,” Counts-Kerby said.

The DYW program helps young ladies with their poise and overall confidence through the interview process, self-expression category and talent portions of the competition. The interview is definitely difficult, but I'm ready for the challenge,” she added.

When she took part in the Northwest Alabama DYW program in August, Bryant won the fitness, talent, self-expression and scholastics categories.

The daughter of Loni Bryant, Allison plans to begin her collegiate career at the University of North Alabama and later transfer to Auburn to pursue a degree in pharmacy.

At RHS, Bryant is a member of the National Honor Society, Color Guard (four years), Color Guard Captain (two years), FBLA, Spanish Club, Chemistry Club and FCCLA.

Bryant's talent performance in Montgomery will include a flag/rifle routine.

Bryant said that preparing for the state competition has been a grind, but she realizes the long-term benefits she'll enjoy from being involved.

Distinguished Young Women is such an amazing program that teaches young women how to be successful in the world today,” Bryant said. “Through this program I have learned how to prepare for interviews, be graceful and poised, and made friendships that will last me a lifetime.

Preparing for state has been hard from learning fitness routines to practicing for interview but I am very excited and proud to represent Franklin County in Distinguished Young Women of Alabama 2018,” she added.


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