The Distinguished Young Women (DYW) program is about finding your voice and sharing it with the
community to bring others up with you as you continue to grow. Know that your voice is strong, but never forget that if you help strengthen the voices of those around you, the united voice of many is capable of anything.
I am Camille Neuder, and I am honored and humbled to represent the state of Idaho for the class of 2021, as well as the phenomenal other participants who made this experience so special.
What got you interested in the DYW Program?
I grew up hearing stories about my mom’s ‘life altering’ experience when she was involved in the program in high school. Eventually I even got to see my three year older sister go through the program as well. Every day she would come home smiling and talking about the wonderful memories and friendships she had created. Hearing and seeing first hand how much the two of the people I admire more than anyone else valued the program is what really instilled my desire to want to be a part of something so special - I am endlessly grateful that I did.
What are some of the challenges you faced (and how did you combat them)?
This year has brought unforeseen changes to everyone and everything. The Distinguished Young Women Program was definitely not exempt from that. The uncertainty of how the program would work, the chance all our hard work could end up just being cancelled, and even just how to handle accepting that all of the stories I had heard about the State experience from my mom, sister, and committee might not look the same, were all weighted thoughts that I had to learn to balance and move forward from. What got me through was the continued opportunity to be a part of such a supportive and loving community: zoom calls/group texts with the other participants, unconditional encouragement from my committee, and my family and friends who have always been my rock. I am who I am today because of each of them. Even though it may have looked different, I feel honored to have been a part of something resilient enough to have still come together in the end through pure passion, hard work, and love, and to have shared each moment with the best people I’ve ever met.
What would you say is the most valuable thing you learned from your experience?
After years of stories from my sister and mother, I now understand what they all meant. Just by being a part of such an empowering and inspirational community, I have learned countless lessons about the value of hard work, and more importantly how to use my voice to stand up for what I believe is right using both strength and kindness. This program has been a life altering experience that has truly helped guide me to a path of becoming my best self of which I am so excited to see it through.
What advice would you give to others who are considering becoming a part of the program?
Distinguished Young Women is a scholarship competition, but even if I didn’t win a single thing I wouldn’t give up the memories I have made along the way for the world. Each person involved is there to help you grow into the best version of you that you can be. I have made friends for a lifetime simply by walking into the doors of practice on the first day. I highly encourage any young woman who is looking to better themselves, their future, and their communities to participate in DYW, because it is a truly inspirational and empowering opportunity of a lifetime.
This article was written as part of the Student Alliance’s ‘Student Stories’. You may find more information about the various articles on our website www.thestudentalliance.org and Instagram page @thestudentalliance. If you would like to contact Camille, please do so via her Instagram account, @camilleo_15. As always, thanks for reading!