Southampton teen competes in state scholarship program

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  • The six participants in the Distinguished Young Women of Massachusetts 2020 State Finals, including Hampshire Regional senior Annie Curran, center with hat raised, of Southampton, perform in the opening dance number, "On Broadway", during the showcase at Easthampton High School on Saturday, July 27, 2019. From left are Mitali Gupte, representing Andover, Catherine Middleman of Metro West, Michaela Olah of Greater Franklin, Curran, representing Greater Easthampton, Allison Hartnett of Everett and Emma Nicholson of Greater Norfolk. Nicholson is the new Distinguished Young Woman of Massachusetts. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional High School senior Annie Curran, center, representing Greater Easthampton, performs in the opening dance number, "On Broadway", of the Distinguished Young Women of Massachusetts 2020 State Finals held at Easthampton High School on Saturday, July 27, 2019. Behind her are Mitali Gupte, left, representing Andover, and Michaela Olah, representing Greater Franklin. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional High School senior Annie Curran, center, representing Greater Easthampton, takes part in the fitness routine during the Distinguished Young Women of Massachusetts 2020 State Finals held at Easthampton High School on Saturday, July 27, 2019. She is joined by Emma Nicholson, left, representing Greater Norfolk, and Mitali Gupte, representing Andover. Nicholson, a senior at Franklin High School, was chosen the new Distinguished Young Woman of Massachusetts. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional High School senior Annie Curran, center, representing Greater Easthampton, takes part in the fitness routine in front of the judges panel at the Distinguished Young Women of Massachusetts 2020 State Finals held at Easthampton High School on Saturday, July 27, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional High School senior Annie Curran, lower left, representing Greater Easthampton, completes the fitness routine with the other five participants in the Distinguished Young Women of Massachusetts 2020 State Finals held at Easthampton High School on Saturday, July 27, 2019. She is joined by Emma Nicholson, lower right, of Greater Norfolk, the new DYW of Massachusetts, and, above from left, Allison Hartnett of Everett, Michaela Olah of Greater Franklin, Catherine Middleman of Metro West and Mitali Gupte of Andover. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Mitali Gupte, representing Andover, performs a classical Indian dance, Bharatanatyam, during the talent category of the Distinguished Young Women of Massachusetts 2020 State Finals held at Easthampton High School on Saturday, July 27, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Catherine Middleman, representing Metro West, sings "They Just Keep Moving the Line" during the talent category of the Distinguished Young Women of Massachusetts 2020 State Finals held at Easthampton High School on Saturday, July 27, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Emma Nicholson, representing Greater Norfolk, performs a contemporary ballet en pointe to “Getting Cold.” Nicholson, a senior at Franklin High School, is the new Distinguished Young Woman of Massachusetts. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional High School senior Annie Curran of Southampton, representing Greater Easthampton, performs “Superstition” on the saxophone during the talent category of the Distinguished Young Women of Massachusetts 2020 State Finals held at Easthampton High School on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Michaela Olah, representing Greater Franklin, sings "Think of Me" from "The Phantom of the Opera" during the talent category of the Distinguished Young Women of Massachusetts 2020 State Finals held at Easthampton High School on Saturday, July 27, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Allison Hartnett, representing Everett, performs a contemporary dance to "Because of You" during the talent category of the Distinguished Young Women of Massachusetts 2020 State Finals held at Easthampton High School on Saturday, July 27, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Mina Liang of Amherst, as the outgoing Distinguished Young Woman of Massachusetts, gives a performance at the Distinguished Young Women of Massachusetts 2020 State Finals program. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Emma Nicholson, representing Greater Norfolk, speaks during the self-expression category of the Distinguished Young Women of Massachusetts 2020 State Finals held at Easthampton High School on Saturday, July 27, 2019. Nicholson, a senior at Franklin High School, was chosen as the new DYW of Massachusetts. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional High School senior Annie Curran of Southampton, representing Greater Easthampton, speaks during the self-expression category of the Distinguished Young Women of Massachusetts 2020 State Finals held at Easthampton High School on Saturday, July 27, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

For the Gazette
Published: 7/28/2019 10:41:35 PM

EASTHAMPTON — This weekend, six high school juniors from around Massachusetts competed in the state-level Distinguished Young Women of Massachusetts national scholarship program at Easthampton High School.

Annie Curran, 17, of Southampton, felt “incredibly honored” to represent the Greater Easthampton area after winning nearly $7,000 in scholarship awards at the area’s local competition this April.

Before Saturday’s competition, Curran, a rising Hampshire Regional senior, was hoping she wouldn’t trip as she performed Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” on saxophone for the talent portion. Despite anxieties, she said the state competition was living up to the local.

“The same supportive environment is here. The same level of enthusiasm is here,” Curran said. “I’m just so happy to be here!”

Distinguished Young Women works to encourage scholarship, leadership and talent. The local, state and national pageant-style competitions score competitors based on their high school transcript, a 10-minute private interview with judges, talent, fitness and self-expression.

Emma Nicholson of Franklin won on Saturday. She was granted a $1,500 scholarship and became eligible for a full ride at several colleges across the country, including Worcester State University in Worcester. She will advance to the national competition in Mobile, Alabama in June 2020.

On Saturday, Curran took home two $100 prizes in the scholastics and self-expression categories. Even though she didn’t win, Curran didn’t feel she’d lost.

“I am happy with how I did ... and honestly, I wasn’t expecting anything,” she said Sunday night. “It was a rewarding experience and it will definitely stay with me the rest of my life.”

Curran said earlier that she wasn’t initially keen on applying to the program.

“If I’m being entirely honest ... I thought it would take up too much time out of my already busy schedule, and I was really stressed out about putting myself out there,” she said.

But, thanks to the encouragement of past program participants and her family, Curran decided to submit an application.

“Instead of being something that took up my time on Friday evenings, it turned into something I really enjoyed and looked forward to,” she said of the nine weeks she spent rehearsing for the local competition.

Between rehearsals, the state-level competitors spent July 23-27 participating in workshops that teach interviewing skills, public speaking and self-confidence — all of which Greater Easthampton chairwoman Jennifer Lawton says help women beyond the program.

“These young ladies are getting jobs at the point that they’re with us,” she told the Gazette. “College interviews are right around the corner, so we work on those skills.”

For the fitness portion, participants perform an eight-minute, high-intensity aerobic workout onstage. Curran, who plays soccer and runs outdoor and indoor track at Hampshire Regional, says sweating it through the pushups and crunches was the “fun part of the competition.”

Pushing herself physically was still challenging, and so was pushing herself out of her comfort zone. Public speaking did not come to her as easily as pushups, but the encouragement to stay true to herself that she received during mock interviews helped her put things in perspective.

“A stressed Annie does not make a very good Annie for interviews,” she ultimately concluded.

Currently, there are only local competitions for Greater Easthampton and communities surrounding Franklin. State chairwoman Amy Riel said that the Distinguished Young Women program is looking for more volunteer support to establish more local competitions.

“Girls are still getting the empowerment message,” Riel said. “[We want to continue] touching more girls’ lives.”




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