Brownstown senior wins scholarship program


A Brownstown Central High School senior is the 2020 Jackson County Distinguished Young Woman.

Zoe Fountain was named the winner of the local scholarship competition Saturday night in the Brownstown Central High School auditorium. She also won the People’s Choice Award.

She received a $3,000 scholarship along with other gifts and will represent the county at the state competition.

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Emma Winks, of Brownstown was first-runner up and won a $2,000 scholarship. Seymour High School senior Sydney Wiesehan was named second runner-up and won a $1,500 scholarship. Kaylee Branaman of Brownstown won the $800 Warren/Silver Spirit Award.

In all, more than $10,000 in scholarship money was awarded during the event, which celebrated 25 years of the competition formerly known as Junior Miss.

Fountain said she wanted to get involved after watching her sister compete.

“It’s a really good program to get scholarships, build self confidence and learn more about yourself and other people,” she said.

This year there were 12 contestants in all including Rebekah Cook of Crothersville, Fountain, Wiesehan, Morgan Sargent of Seymour, Ashley Schroer of Brownstown, Abby Lemming of Trinity Lutheran High School, Rachel Hildebrand of Brownstown, Winks, Grace Rennekamp of Seymour, Bridget Marshall of Seymour, Branaman and Emily Koch of Brownstown.

The competition is judged on five categories: fitness (15%), self-expression (15%), talent (20%), scholastics (25%) and an interview (25%).

Contestants also had to write an essay on Being Your Best Self. The winning essay came from Morgan Sargent. She also won a talent award for her xylophone performance. The second talent award went to Fountain for her tap dance routine.

Fitness awards went to Fountain and Ashley Schroer. Self-expression winners were Wiesehan and Rebekah Cook.

Fountain said the most difficult part of the competition was the interview.

“You didn’t know what to expect going into it,” she said. “They would ask you questions, and you’d have to come up with answers on the spot.”

But getting to meet all the other competitors made it a worthwhile experience, she added.

Although she didn’t know how she would do in all the categories, Winks said she thought she had a good chance at scoring high in scholastics. She ended up winning the scholastics award.

“I was very surprised when they called my name for first-runner up,” she said. “I’m tickled pink, and I couldn’t be happier with how I did.”

Winks said she took the competition seriously and even practiced for it at home in front of the mirror.

Besides winning scholarship money, she said the biggest benefit of the Distinguished Young Women competition is making new friends.

“I met a lot of girls from different schools,” she said. “This is a really, really good group of girls.”

Wiesehan agreed and said being in the competition was a fun way to meet new people.

“It’s a good way to get involved with the community and get scholarship money too,” she added.

Being in the competition gave her more confidence to speak in front of a crowd. She did an oral interpretation for her talent. She also won the interview award.

“It’s a good way to step out of your comfort zone, because everyone is so encouraging,” she said. “This program offers something for everyone, no matter what your talents are.”

In her farewell speech, Jackson County 2019 Distinguished Young Woman Shauna Drake said the program influenced her life in many positive ways.

“It truly embodies a scholarship organization that helps the confidence and overall attitudes of young women while preparing them with the life skills they will need in their future endeavors,” she said. “Distinguished Young Women of 2020, I say congratulations for having the courage to just try it out and see what it does for you. Chances are, it will impact you much more than you could ever imagine.”

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2020 Jackson County Distinguished Young Women Scholarship Awards

Winner: Zoe Fountain of Brownstown

First runner up: Emma Winks of Brownstown

Second runner up: Sydney Wiesehan of Seymour

Warren/Silver Spirit Award: Kaylee Branaman of Brownstown

People’s Choice Award: Zoe Fountain

Fitness winners: Zoe Fountain and Ashley Schroer of Brownstown

Self-Expression winner: Sydney Wiesehan and Rebekah Cook of Crothersville

Talent winners: Zoe Fountain and Morgan Sargent of Seymour

Scholastics winner: Emma Winks

Interview winner: Sydney Wiesehan

Be Your Best Self Essay winner: Morgan Sargent


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