Mesa’s Jaylia Yan shined as a student in high school, receiving numerous accolades like a Flinn Scholarship to Arizona State University. Her most recent accomplishment, however, came not just for her academics but for being a well-rounded person.
Yan was recently named Arizona’s 2014 Distinguished Young Woman, which evaluated entrants on several different categories. She traveled to Mobile, Ala., on June 15 preparing for a national scholarship competition called the Distinguished Young Women National Finals, where she’ll have the opportunity to win a share of more than $150,000 in cash scholarships. She is one of 50 state representatives competing for the chance to be the Distinguished Young Woman of America for 2014.
There are five categories of evaluation: scholastics (20 percent), interview (25 percent), fitness (15 percent), talent (25 percent) and self-expression (15 percent). She will partake in team-building activities, finish community service projects and interact with the Gulf Coast community through several events during her two weeks in Mobile.
During preparation, the program allows contact to outsiders for only 10 minutes per day. Everything is enclosed and the minutes are strictly monitored. For the duration of this trip, each girl stays with a host family and is sponsored by a Girl Scouts troop.
The local newspaper, the Press-Register, hosts a contest in which the Distinguished Young Woman participants submit diary entries about their trip. Yan had her submission published on June 18 and could win a $1,000 scholarship awarded on June 26.
Pam Patterson, executive director of Distinguished Young Women, described Yan as “a delightful young woman with an effervescent personality.”
Although she attended Mesa Academy for most of her schooling, Yan graduated from Mountain View High School in May. It was during her senior year when her counselor, Audrey Warren, advised Yan to apply. The program is open for all senior girls to apply.
Born in California and raised in Arizona, Yan is venturing to a whole new world of greenery and Southern culture this month.
“It was as if I stepped through the looking glass into a vibrant fairy-tale world, beautifully embellished with women as stunning and as diverse as the foliage and flora themselves,” she wrote about landing in Alabama in her published diary entry.
During high school, Yan was a varsity speech and debater in addition to playing the flute. She was the president of an academic club — it’s associated with the Model United Nations program — and the president of the Mayor’s Youth Committee. She worked as a research assistant for Arizona State University’s electrical engineering and physics departments.
With working parents, Yan has been in daycare since she was 6 weeks old. Her mother believes this is what gave her daughter independence.
“She is really independent, good at making friends and taking care of herself,” said Jane, her mother.
She remains a role model for her community and is looking to further her education at Barrett, The Honors College at ASU to study global studies and international business.
The final paragraph of Yan’s first diary entry summarizes the end of her first series of adventures in Alabama. It was a busy day, complete with debate and dancing and her first taste of Southern humidity and hospitality and other new experiences that could influence her future.
“If every day is like this, where I spend long days with amazing girls and spend long nights with an amazing family and roommate, there is no way I can leave this program, this city, unchanged,” she wrote.
The final is set for June 26, 27, and 28 at the Mobile Civic Center Theater. For more information, or to see the competition stream live, visit DistinguishedYW.org on Saturday, June 29, beginning at 5 p.m. Arizona time. Saturday night’s show will include an opening number and announcement of the top 10. For talent, Yan will sing “Don’t Rain on My Parade.”
• Brittney Daigneau is a senior at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She is an intern with the Tribune this semester. Reach her at email@example.com.