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Hicks wins DYW contest

Amani Hicks won the title at the 49th Annual Distinguished Young Women of Washington County held May 28. This program picks a local rising senior who excels in academics, presentation, and talent. 

The contestants were graded on interviews, essays, and their scholastic achievements before the crowd arrived. During the program, contestants showed off their choreographed fitness routine, individual talents, and self-expression. Awards are handed out at the end for the winner by category first. Afterward, a 3rd runner up, 2nd runner up, 1st runner up, and winner is crowned. 

Distinguished Young Women of Alabama, the largest and oldest national scholarship program for high school girls, was founded in 1958 in Mobile, Alabama.

This year’s Washington County winner said, “It’s not a competition. It is a sisterhood.” Amani said the lifelong connections she made are the most important takeaway, and she is more than anything proud to next represent her county on the stage at the state level. 

Amani learned about the program when her friend’s mother asked her to be a little sister last year. As a little sister, she helped her big sister with her wardrobe, gave her gifts, and learned a dance to perform. Preparing to compete for DYW this year was a bit different. Her first meeting was at the beginning of the school year. She started preparing with mock interviews and conversations about what is expected of girls in the program. 

Amani scheduled her time well to prepare for the competition. She is involved in numerous extracurricular activities at Washington County High School. She is a proud member of the Gold Duster dance team, varsity girls basketball team, the National Honor Society, Scholars Bowl, and more. Community service is a priority for Amani. She said working with the Special Olympics was one of her favorite volunteer experiences.

While Amani is a busy girl, she still makes time for her loved ones and friends. “I am so happy that she got it. I almost cried,” Delia Richardson, fellow DYW participant, said with a smile. Delia said she and Amani began to meet every Friday up until the performance to work together on the fitness routine when Amani realized she was having a hard time.

Amani said she is most grateful for the support of her mother and grandmother. “My grandma was the first person to stand up and start cheering,” she said, adding that her grandmother is her best cheerleader, and her mother has always sacrificed to make sure she can achieve her dreams.

Amani said she tries to repay them with hard work and success. With her win at the local level of DYW, she received $69,900 in scholarship opportunities, including huge offers from the University of Mobile, Springhill, and the University of West Alabama. 

As she prepares for the upcoming state contest, she is currently working on a song in Korean. She said she hopes to one day become an ESL teacher and work overseas. She has a passion for language and plans to major in elementary education with a double minor in English and dance. 

Amani’s talent at the local level was a hip-hop dance. She has been dancing since the age of 3 and dancing competitively since the age of 6. She kept dancing competitively until middle school when she joined the team at her school, Maroon Magic, which she was a part of from 5th to 8th grade. 

As a member of her high school dance team, Gold Dusters, she can mentor the young dancers and is even choreographing a routine for them to use in the upcoming school year. In fact, hearing her name announced on stage as the winner was not the first thing to bring her to tears on the day of the program. She cried earlier that morning when the other Gold Dusters came to surprise her with their support. 

Amani said she is overjoyed with all the love that she has gotten from participating in DYW and ecstatic about the way she has grown as a friend, a professional, and a woman over the past months. Reflecting on the highlights, which included sleepovers and pool parties with her fellow contestants, Amani said she wanted all of them to know that “whenever I get to state, it’s not me up there. It’s all nine of us.”


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