Nichole Thiel has built up a range of project management and strategic planning skills throughout her career. One early experience that changed her life in this respect was her participation in the Distinguished Young Women (DYW) program, then called Junior Miss. Nichole Thiel benefited from this scholarship and leadership development series when she was in high school and recently gave back by serving as a judge in the mock interview portion of a local competition.
DYW hosts programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, offering more than $1 billion in scholarships annually. Entry is free for high school juniors and seniors. As part of the competition, DYW evaluates participants largely on their success in the interview portion and in their academic accomplishment, with each of these categories weighted at 25 percent of the overall evaluation. Performance in the talent portion counts for 20 percent of the total, and self-expression and physical fitness at 15 percent each. Every winner at the state level goes on to a nationwide finals event, held in Mobile, Alabama.
DYW participants also receive extensive support through a Life Skills program that consists of workshops designed to refine skills in self-confidence, presentation, and public speaking.
Since the program’s beginning in 1958, DYW national winners have gone on to study at Harvard, Columbia, and other major universities, and to pursue a wide range of careers in fields that include economics, medicine, communications, and theater.