By Joseph McCain The Winston County Journal
Madeline Hogue of Louisville said when she heard her name called as Winston county’s 2013 Distinguished Young Woman “I was completely shocked. I was happy but shocked.” After her name was called, the other young women in the program gathered around and congratulated her on the winning the scholarship competition. Those gathered around were friends- bonding over practices and shared events. “I gained a lot of new friends from this experience,” said Hogue. While Hogue also gained scholarships and a title, she explained the experience and friendships forged really were the “winnings”. “I gained a lot of new friends and more self confidence,” said Hogue. “Being homeschooled I have not had much chance to talk in front of people and I discovered I enjoyed talking in front of people which helped build up my confidence,” said Hogue. Those bonds of friendship were not only shown in the other young women’s support when she won the title but also when the contestants selected her for the Caroline Fair Spirit Award. The Spirit Award scholarship goes to the young women who best displays the spirit of Distinguished Young Women throughout the week. The award is voted by the contestants. “It was my favorite award. It meant a lot to me to receive something so special from the Fair family and it means a lot to be selected by the other contestants,” said Hogue. This transformative experience for Hogue is the goal of the Distinguished Young Woman. The program aims to inspire high school young women like Hogue to develop their full, individual potential through a fun and learning experience that culminates in a showcase of their accomplishments. Hogue recommended any young women interested should participate. “I absolutely would recommend other young ladies to do the program. It has helped me come out of my shell,” said Hogue. Hogue chose to participate in the program for that very reason. “I had seen a lot of friends participate and each one came out more well rounded and better for the experience,” said Hogue. Hogue explained that it was not just her getting up on the stage and participating. “My parents were very encouraging and my dad wanted me to give it my all,” said Hogue. Hogue also discovered how supportive the community can be. “I was surprised to see so many people come out and support me and encourage me to do my best,” said Hogue. That support continues as Hogue prepares for the state competition that will be held in Meridian on July 19-21. The winner in Meridianwill go onto the National Competition. “I’m still practicing my piano and keeping in shape,”said Hogue but explained the event will be another great learning experience.