Illinois teen gives back to community through participation in national scholarship program

By on July 1, 2011

ALABAMA—Samantha Vazquez of Illinois worked with Habitat for Humanity in Mobile, Ala., on June 16, helping to educate children in the Mobile area about the importance of suitable housing. Vazquez is currently in Mobile participating in the 54th Distinguished Young Women National Finals, a scholarship program that will award more than $140,000 in cash scholarships to its participants on June 23, 24 and 25.

The recent Kaneland High School graduate volunteered her time as part of the “Be Your Best Self” day, sponsored by the Junior League of Mobile. She and 15 of her fellow state representatives spent the morning painting bird houses, interacting with the children and teaching them about giving back to their communities while the remaining participants volunteered at other sites around the city.

“‘Be Your Best Self’ day is an integral part of a participant’s experience while in Mobile for National Finals,” said Becky Jo Peterson, executive director of Distinguished Young Women. “Our program strives to inspire young women to go out and serve their communities in addition to bettering themselves. Through the “Be Your Best Self” program, we wish to create a generation of young women who engage in their communities through service to others.”

“Be Your Best Self” day is an extension of the “Be Your Best Self” program, the official outreach program of Distinguished Young Women aimed at inspiring young people to lead successful and productive lives. The five elements that comprise the program are to be healthy, be involved, be studious, be ambitious and be responsible.

As a participant in the 54th Distinguished Young Women National Finals, Vazquez is eligible for a $1,000 Be Your Best Self scholarship. Each of the 50 state representatives participated in “National Be Your Best Self” week in April and made a presentation to their local Boys & Girls Club or other community organization to teach young people the five elements of the “Be Your Best Self” program. The participants’ experience and connection with the program, as described in an essay, will determine the recipients of the “Be Your Best Self” award.