“I’m definitely nervous but I feel pretty confident,” Rucker said. “The people in my community definitely helped prepare me for this. So going into it, I feel like I have a good foot in the door. ... I’m just so thankful and blessed for this opportunity and I can’t wait to do my county proud.”
On Friday and Saturday, Rucker — the 17-year-old daughter of Donald and Tanya Rucker of Cartersville — will compete 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 Cobb Civic Center’s Jennie T. Anderson Theatre, the program is a preliminary for the national competition in Mobile, Ala., where more than $130,000 in cash scholarships will be dispersed next summer.
Rucker advanced to the state level after becoming the Distinguished Young Woman of Bartow County in March. Along with the title netting her a $1,300 cash scholarship, she also won four preliminary awards, increasing her total winnings to $2,100.
“It’s so great to get to be an inspiration to other girls and get to be a role model in a way for them and help them realize that they can reach their goals and reach their dreams and do whatever they want because nothing’s impossible for them,” said Rucker, who has a full slate of activities planned this week leading up to the DYW competition. “We’ve done some things; like today we did a Day [of Caring] where we went ... to a nursing home.
“We actually got to spend time with some elderly women and we got to perform our talent for them and just reach out to our community,” she said, adding her DYW talent is a tap routine that she choreographed to the overture from the musical “Chicago.” “It was just a great way of giving back. So that’s basically what we’re doing this entire week.”
A rising senior at Woodland High School, Rucker maintains a 4.0 GPA while being involved in numerous activities. Some of her current and past achievements include: WHS Student of the Month for January 2013, Miss Woodland winner, Governor’s Honors Program state finalist in Theater, Best Dancer in Cartersville’s Artistic Talent Showcase from 2011 to 2013, 100 percent Award in C.A.T.S., Best Supporting Actress in a Musical, C.A.T.S. Leadership Award, C.A.T.S. dance captain and secretary of the Thespian Society her sophomore year. She also is involved in Wildcats for Kids, WHS Chorale, WHS Theater Department, Student Council, Act I Community Theater and National Honor Society.
“Brooke has worked incredibly hard to prepare for the state program,” said Abbey Hufstetler, Georgia’s Junior Miss — the predecessor of Georgia’s DYW — for 2009 and a member of the local Distinguished Young Women volunteer committee. “She has worked with several accomplished tappers to improve her talent piece, and it is an excellent, highly entertaining piece. Her enthusiastic energy and abilities shine throughout the 90-second routine. As a dancer, the fitness routine comes easier for Brooke than it may for others, but she has also put much work into that routine to demonstrate her physical fitness through strength, flexibility and endurance and has really done a wonderful job preparing for that portion of the competition.
“She has really impressed our committee with how hard she has worked to be ready for the state interview. During mock interviews throughout the summer, Brooke has demonstrated how quick, intelligent and well-spoken she is, and we feel confident that she will represent Bartow County extremely well in the state program. Her can-do attitude has made her a joy to work with to prepare for the state program.”
Tickets for the upcoming state contests, which both start at 7 p.m., will cost $18 per show and $35 for both competitions. Attendees may purchase tickets at the door.
For more information about the Distinguished Young Women of Bartow County program, visit www.dywbartow.wordpress.com.