Trinity Lutheran senior named 2022 Distinguished Young Woman

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BROWNSTOWN

During the interview portion of the contest Saturday afternoon, Sarah Lemming told the judges she wanted to be a role model to the community.

No matter where she’s at, she said she still wants to serve the community and be humble because that’s what it’s all about.

At the end of Saturday night’s 2022 Jackson County Distinguished Young Women program, the Trinity Lutheran High School senior was named the winner of the scholarship competition.

Along with the $4,000 scholarship, medal, flower bouquet, personal tumbler, photo session and personalized Thirty-One bag she received for that title, she earned another $350 each for the self-expression, interview and talent portions, giving her a total of $5,050 in scholarship money.

“I was very shocked, to be quite frank,” Lemming said, smiling. “I had won a couple of categories, and I felt good about self-expression, I felt pretty good about talent, I felt good about interview, but I wasn’t expecting to win that, and I didn’t feel like I would win any of them for sure. … Then they said my name and my number and I was ‘Oh wow! Here we are.’ It is a huge honor to have that title.”

Lemming was among 13 senior high school girls competing Saturday, as $13,500 in scholarship money was up for grabs — the most in the 27 years of the program in Jackson County.

The contestants were evaluated by a panel of three judges in the following categories: Scholastics (25%), interview (25%), talent (20%), fitness (15%) and self-expression (15%).

This year, $350 in scholarship money was earned by two girls in each category. The winners were:

Fitness: Kennadi Lakins of Crothersville High School and Madalyn Baurle of Seymour High School

Scholastics: Katie Deppen of SHS and Addison Bumbleburg of TLHS

Self-expression: Lemming and Bumbleburg

Interview: Valeria Ramirez of Seymour High School and Lemming

Talent: Lemming and Deppen

The judges were given access to the contestants’ school transcripts to determine their overall scholastic ability, and the interviews were done Saturday afternoon.

Talents were done individually Saturday night in the Brownstown Central High School auditorium, while the contestants learned a group fitness routine during three-hour practices last week and were split into two groups to display their skills during the competition.

For self-expression, each contestant answered the same question: What’s the biggest challenge facing young girls today?

The first award presented was people’s choice, which gave attendees a chance to vote for their favorite contestant and donate money to the DYW program. Morgan Branaman of BCHS won that and also was recognized for the most ticket sales.

The Be Your Best Self essay contest winner was Ramirez, earning a $300 scholarship. Contestants had to write about a moment in their life when they were their best self.

Following the category awards, the Warren/Silver Spirit Award was given to Ella Plasse of Crothersville High School. That was voted on by the contestants, and Plasse received a $700 scholarship.

“I was so nervous the first day. I think we all were, but just getting to know each other throughout the week, these are friends that I’m literally going to have forever,” she said. “From Day 1, I was like, ‘I need to be positive, I just need to encourage everyone,’ and I’ve just done my best to do that this whole week, and I’m just so thankful. I have just had such an amazing experience this week.”

Next, master of ceremonies Blake Hackman announced Baurle as second runner-up, receiving a $2,000 scholarship.

“I’m just super happy right now,” Baurle said after the contest. “I’m just super proud of myself for going out and doing this program. I really love what this program has done and what they stand for, and I’m just really proud to be here today.”

She also was excited about being a fitness winner.

“I really put all I’ve got into the fitness,” she said. “When we first started training, I was really sore for a couple of days. But then I finally was like, ‘You know what? I’ve got to give it my all,’ and I’m so glad I did because it paid off.”

The next honor was first runner-up, which went to Bumbleburg. She received a $3,000 scholarship.

“It’s still crazy. I can’t believe it. I was not expecting it all — not at all,” she said. “Just hearing the amount when they were saying that’s how much, I was like, ‘Wow! That’s mind-blowing to me.’ It’s going to be so helpful for college, and I can’t wait. I’m so excited.”

Add in her wins in scholastics and self-expression, and Bumbleburg’s total was $3,700.

“I have the goal to be valedictorian of my class at Trinity, so I’ve been working really hard to keep my straight A’s and my 4.0 (grade point average), and it has kept for now. We’re hoping calculus won’t kill me there,” she said, laughing.

For self-expression, Bumbleburg talked about her struggles with weight and body positivity over the years.

“I know that a lot of other girls struggle with that, too, so that was a big thing that I wanted to make sure everyone knew needed to be addressed just because we need to always make sure all of the girls know that they are beautiful no matter what they look like and everyone is beautiful and unique in their own way and that’s completely fine,” she said. “It’s really nice to know that I can make that impact on people.”

Finally, the overall winner was revealed as Lemming.

“I feel honored that I was picked out of all of these people who are all so talented and so smart,” she said. “I feel as though I am capable and I have exhibited the right traits, and because I care so much about my community and because I am so passionate about learning, about growing, about trying new things, I feel as though that is fit for me. I feel confident about that.”

In her interview, Lemming told the judges how playing the violin has impacted her and others she has taught, she said intolerance and the importance of celebrating diversity are important social issues and she discussed how she has had a longtime interest in philosophy and deep thinking.

During the talent portion, she played the violin. That’s a skill she picked up when she was 6.

“I was a kindergartner that thought a lot, I really liked to learn, and so a new instrument was an appealing challenge to me,” Lemming said. “I decided to play, I gave it a try, I had the drive to keep practicing and so over the years, I’ve cultivated the talent, and it became fun because I was making music that sounded good.”

For self-expression, Lemming said from an early age, girls are told to be more — to be prettier, thinner, quieter and well-behaved.

“The biggest challenge they have to overcome is to realize their self-worth and decide that they are themselves unfiltered and authentic,” she said.

With all of the scholarship money she earned, Lemming plans to put it toward college — either Butler, Hanover or Xavier — where she will major in biology and move on to medical school to become a physician.

Lemming moves on to the state competition in February in Kokomo, where she will vie for the opportunity to represent the state as the Distinguished Young Woman of Indiana for 2022.

That winner will move on to the 65th Distinguished Young Women National Finals in June in Mobile, Alabama. There, she will join 50 other representatives from across the country in competing for cash scholarships and the opportunity to represent the program as the Distinguished Young Woman of America.