OHS senior receives send off celebration ahead of state DYW competition

Published 5:00 pm Friday, July 8, 2022

“I’m so excited,” said Keira Serrano. “I can’t believe all the support I have.”

Oxford High School senior Keira Serrano was surrounded by family, friends and supportive community members at the Oxford-Lafayette County Public Library on Wednesday evening. 

The community came together for a Send-Off Celebration before Serrano attends the 2023 Distinguished Young Women of Mississippi Program beginning on July 14 in Meridian, Mississippi.

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Serrano stood in the library’s auditorium, wearing an emerald green formal dress, as people came up to congratulate her, offer words of support, get a signed photo or take a picture.

To her, the Send-Off Celebration was a wonderful event to spend time with her loved ones before challenging herself on the big stage.

“It means so much to me,” said Serrano. “All my friends and family were there— at least the ones that could be here because it’s summertime, but I’m so grateful for them.”

“And it was so much fun,” she continued. “I got to have a little taste of what I’m going to have to do at state. It was a great way to get involved in the community once more and show all the support I truly do have.”

In February, Serrano was crowned Distinguished Young Woman of Lafayette County winning $1,100 in scholarship money. Now, she will compete for the state title along with 33 other Mississippi high school seniors where contestants are competing for more than $28,700 in college scholarships.

The state program is now in its 66th year celebrating and spotlighting outstanding achievements of the state’s best and brightest high school girls. 

“I thank everyone for their support,” said Serrano. “I’m so excited to represent Lafayette County. It means so much that I get to represent Lafayette County for a whole other group of girls from all over Mississippi and show the judges what Lafayette County is all about.”

The three nights of competition at The Evangel Temple concludes on Saturday, July 16. The doors open nightly at 6:30 pm and each show starts promptly at 7:30 pm for the three-night event.

Serrano, the daughter of Aldo and Lisa Serrano of Oxford, attends Oxford High School. Academic accomplishments, membership and hobbies include the following: National Honor Society, National Senior BETA Club, Sports Medicine National Certification, Lott Leadership Nominee and OHS Chargerette Dance Team. 

During the week-long program in Meridian, participants are evaluated on scholastic achievement, fitness, self-expression, talent and interview. 

Serrano said she has practiced hard for the interview portion of the competition.

“I’ve been doing interview practice once a week on Wednesday evenings,” she said. “It’s been a different panel of people. I’ve had doctors, dentists, lawyers or people who have been through the program or similar programs.”

Knowing how to respond during an interview is not just a DYW skill, but it’s also a life skill, said Serrano.

“I’ve been challenged on different topics like current events and how to take a stand on what I believe in which has been so helpful and brought a lot of confidence into who I am,” Serrano said.

Serrano has chosen a Lyrical Dance presentation of “Never Enough” for her talent. Serrano also performed “Never Enough” in the local DYW competition, but she is amping up the performance for audiences in Meridian.

“I’ve added a few new tricks and a little more pizazz for the state stage,” she said.

If selected as Distinguished Young Woman of Mississippi, Serrano will compete in the Distinguished Young Women for 2023 finals in June of 2023, held in Mobile, Alabama. 

“If I did win, I’d be overjoyed,” Serrano said. “I’d definitely think about my county as well and I’d just be grateful to everyone who got me there.”

There she will compete for the opportunity to win a share of more than $100,000 in cash scholarship awards, including the $50,000 national title scholarship award. 

Serrano confirmed her plans to attend the University of Mississippi to major in allied health with the goal of becoming a Nurse Practitioner.

“I’m getting closer to achieving it,” said Serrano.

Serrano encourages any high school students to join their local DYW program if they are interested.

“Anyone who is interested in DYW, we will have an interest meeting after the state competition,” she said. “They should start thinking about it now if they would like to.”

For more information about Distinguished Young Women, contact Tara Principe, National Headquarters Marketing and Communications Director, at 251-438-3621 or Tara@DistinguishedYW.org or visit www.DistinguishedYW.org.