Local Roots, National Reach.
Distinguished Young Women, formerly America’s Junior Miss, was founded in 1958 as a way to reward the accomplishments of high school senior girls seeking to pursue higher education.
Prior to its organization, the Jaycees held an annual event, Azalearama, to promote Mobile, AL and the beautiful azaleas which can be found all along the Gulf Coast. Each spring, Azalea Trail Maids were selected from high school senior girls in the area to represent the annual event and they would receive scholarships for college. With few scholarship opportunities available to girls in the 1950s, the Jaycees soon found themselves deluged with applications from Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi. Visionaries quickly saw the need to recognize outstanding young women from all across the country and what we now know as Distinguished Young Women was born.
While modest in its beginnings, Distinguished Young Women grew and remains today the largest and oldest scholarship program of its kind for high school girls. With scholarship, leadership and talent as its overarching theme, Distinguished Young Women has drawn over 780,000 young women to compete in the program at the local, state and national level and $118 million in cash scholarships has been awarded to deserving young women.