On Friday and Saturday, the 17-year-old daughter of Mike and Fujiko Inaba of Cartersville will compete against 23 participants in the areas of fitness (15 percent of the overall score), interview (25 percent), scholastics (20 percent), self-expression (15 percent) and talent (25 percent). To be held at the Performing Arts Center at Marietta High School, the program will be a preliminary for the national competition in Mobile, Ala., next year.
“What I’m most excited about is probably getting to know the girls here, because they’re from all over the state,” Inaba said. They’re all different in personality, but they all have in common that they are Distinguished Young Women. And I’m excited to see what kind of lives they lead.
“My strengths, I think, probably are either scholastics, because grades are one of my top priorities in school, or talent, because I’m doing a beatbox flute, which is one of the unique talents in the competition. So I think it will be intriguing for the judges and the audience. My weakness is definitely fitness, because in my activities at school I don’t do a lot of athletics.”
Inaba advanced to the state level after becoming the Distinguished Young Woman of Bartow County in March. Along with winning the local DYW medallion, Inaba also received a $1,300 Overall Winner Award Scholarship and a $200 Scholastics Award Scholarship.
Due to Bartow County’s legacy in the DYW program, Inaba considers herself fortunate to have a network of support surrounding her. Among the former and current DYW of Georgia winners that will be present for the competition will be Cartersville’s Brooke Rucker, who recently became the first local and fourth state representative to win the national medallion.
“I’m so excited to be able to say that I’m from Bartow County, because we have so many opportunities here that some of the other girls don’t even have,” Inaba said. “It’s definitely great to come from a county that has such great legacy. The past winners have been so supportive of me. The whole county has been supportive of me, really.
“... Even though there’s that pressure of winning the state competition, I know that the reason why we’ve been having such a great legacy is because the individual girls have been so amazing as well. ... So whatever happens, I know that people will be proud of me. I just want to thank everybody [from] Bartow County, because I never realized how lucky I was to be from there.”
A rising senior at Woodland High School, Inaba maintains a 4.0 GPA while being involved in numerous activities, such as drum major for the marching band, Women’s Choir, Tri-M Music Honor Society’s president, Partnerships for Success’ secretary, Girls Trio, Cat PAWS (Peers Assisting Woodland Students), Math Cats and Beta Club.
“Sophia will do an outstanding job representing our community,” said Abbey Hufstetler, Georgia’s Junior Miss for 2009 and co-director of Bartow’s DYW program. “She is a lot of fun to be around, but she also knows how to work hard. Throughout this summer, she has represented her community and challenged herself in her craft at the University of Georgia’s Music Leadership Workshop, the Governor’s Honors Program and as drum major at Woodland High School’s band camp. She has proven her dedication to growing in her talents, and it has certainly shown.
“... Sophia is an exceptionally bright young woman, and I believe both her scholastics and interview will set her apart. Not only are her grades outstanding, she is also a critical thinker who thoroughly analyzes any situation, problem or question. It is really intriguing to hear her thought process in the interview setting, and I believe this will carry over into the self-expression portion of the program as well. I also feel that her unique talent will really set her apart. For her talent, she will not only be playing the flute, she will also beatbox simultaneously. It is a really exciting piece, and definitely unlike anything I’ve ever seen before on the local, state or national level. It is a jaw-dropping performance, and I can’t wait to see how the audience reacts to her piece on Friday evening.”
Tickets for the state contest, which will start at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, will cost $20 per show. Attendees may purchase tickets at the door.
For more information about the Distinguished Young Women program, visit http://distinguishedyw.org/.