The 38th Distinguished Young Woman (DYW) Rutherford County program was held Saturday, September 25 at The Foundation Performing Arts & Conference Center at Isothermal Community College.
Kennedy Ruff was named the DWY winner and will represent Rutherford County at the DYW North Carolina Program in January 2022 in Greensboro. The first finalist was Kierra Kemick and second finalist was Emma Long.
Ten Rutherford County high-school seniors participated in the program. This year's contestants were seniors rather than juniors since the program had to be rescheduled from the spring because of COVID.
Contestants were Peyton Causby, Macy Greene, Emma Long, Kennedy Ruff, R-S Central High School; Madison Earley, Kierra Kemick, Rutherford Early College High School, (REaCH); Kamily Flores, Alexander McKinney, Alyssa Wilkie, East Rutherford; and McKenna Hill, Polk County High School.
"The night of the Distinguished Young Women Rutherford County program was surreal," Kennedy said. "I was super shocked when I heard my name announced...Each one of the girls could have won Saturday night."
"My heart is filled with so much gratitude and excitement for this new journey in my life. I never imagined my senior year turning out like this, but I would not want it any other way," the R-S Central senior said. A huge shout out to the awesome DYWRC committee for everything they have accomplished in providing us an in person program this year. We beat the odds once again, and I'm so thrilled we got to perform live. Dance has been my passion for 12 years, and I was able to express my love of dance through a lyrical piece."
She danced to "This Woman's Work" by Hope Murphy.
"I decided to dedicate the song choice to my mom who has been battling aggressive breast cancer since 2013. I have always wanted to do a solo performance to honor her and thought the most perfect moment was on program night," Kennedy added.
Kennedy is the daughter of Doug and Carla Ruff of Rutherfordton. She has a sister Carrie, who is a law school student at Campbell University, Raleigh.
Emma Neal, Distinguished Young Woman Rutherford County and North Carolina led the show by presenting two dance performances, an on-stage interview, and a farewell address. Special Entertainment also included last year's participants Hannah Shelton, Gracie Vess, and Ashlyn Gibbs as well as Main Event Dance Company and Dreamweavers Dance Studio.
Saturday night was Emma's first in-person event as her entire DYW experience was virtual including her national competition experience, where she was named first runner up.
Other awards presented were;
Scholastic Preliminary Awards- Macy Greene, first; Madison Earley, second and Peyton Causby, third.
Overall Scholastic Award-Alex McKinney
Interview Preliminary Awards- Alex McKinney, Kierra Kemick, Peyton Causby.
Fitness Preliminary Awards- McKenna Hill, Kennedy Ruff, Emma Long.
Self Expression Preliminary Awards- Kierra Kemick , Kennedy Ruff, Emma Long.
Talent- Alyssa Wilkie, Kennedy Ruff, Emma Long.
Spirit Award- Emma Long
Be Your Best Self- McKenna Hill (first) and Kamily Flores.
Scholarship Award Amounts: Preliminary Scholarships $100;
Overall Scholastics, BYBS, Spirit $200;
2nd Finalist $1,500,
1st Finalist $2,500,
DYW Representative $4,000.