New friends, new town, new adventures.
Kaela Davis’s trip to Idaho Falls to compete at the state level in the Distinguished Young Women (DYW) program was full of new experiences.
Kaela spent a week training with 36 other girls from around the state. She said that the girls were not allowed to stay with family, and they were limited on how much they could contact family members or be on their phones..
“They were wanting us to really focus and not have a lot of distractions,” Kaela said. “It was really cool to be in a new environment for a week.”
She said that during the week the girls had to stay with host parents, and she said the experience was like a preparation for the ‘real world.’
“Parents could attend program nights, but we couldn’t speak to them afterwords,” Kaela said. “Its too easy to get worked up, parents like to point things out and the directors wanted to keep us from that. They wanted to separate home life from the competition and wanted us to get that real world experience.”
She said that she did not walk away with any scholarships, but Kaela said that attending the competition was a learning experience.
“Locally I placed in scholarships for everything except for the be your best self essay, I went over and beyond with what people would define as winning,” Kaela said. “I did the opposite of what you would consider going above and beyond at state, but I gathered more from there in personal growth than I did from local. I give that all to what they hold you to at state.”
She said working with the other girls was challenging and a growing experience.
“The environment itself is so positive. You’re with girls who are there for the same reasons as you are because they tried their very best,” Kaela said. “Its so hard but so rewarding and you get to grow because of that. There’s not a lot of a difference between local and state except for that they want more from you, they push you harder.”
Kaela said that her overall experience in DYW has been rewarding, but she said a lot of people may have misconceptions about the program.
“The misconception about DYW is a lot of people think its just a pageant,” Kaela said. “Fifty percent of it is scholastic, its a nerd festival, we are all nerdy in our own way.”
She said that the next generation of girls at SMHS should take advantage of not just the scholarships but also the growing experience that DYW offers. Kaela said that she originally attended her first DYW when she was in eighth grade and that she didn’t see herself ever participating in the event. She said once in the program her perspective changed.
“Once I started and got into program, it meant a little bit more,” Kaela said. “It is an environment where everyone encourages you to be your best self.”
Kaela wanted to give a special thanks to those who helped her during her time in DYW. She thanks Mike and Shawn Walters for driving the girls to Idaho Falls and their many hours of volunteer work. She also thanks Larry Naccarato for hauling luggage to Idaho Falls.
Kaela said she was grateful for Paul Ebert and Shelly Smith who hosted a BBQ for North Idaho DYW girls and their families. She thanks Jenna Bauer for her wisdom and support and any friends and family who encouraged her.
Lastly she wanted to give a special shout out to all the sponsors who supported her including Schumaker’s Jewelry who donated a diamond necklace.