Set for State


Lori McDonald, The Tribune

By Lori McDonald | The Tribune [email protected]

Seymour High School senior Marlo Cornn was named 2023 Jackson County Distinguished Young Woman last August in the annual scholarship contest held in Brownstown.

In two weeks, Cornn will move on to the state competition in Kokomo to vie for the opportunity to represent the state as the Distinguished Young Woman of Indiana for 2023. The competition will be held the week of Feb. 12 to 18. Preliminary night will be held Feb. 17, and finals night is Feb. 18.

The program will be held in Kokomo at Indiana University Kokomo Havens Auditorium. The program starts at 6 p.m. each day.

The winner will move on to the 66th Distinguished Young Women national finals in June in Mobile, Alabama. There, she will join 50 other representatives from across the country in competing for cash scholarships and the opportunity to represent the program as the Distinguished Young Woman of America.

In Jackson County’s 28 year run, there have been six state scholastics winners, one state fitness winner, two state interview winners, three state self-expression winners, eight state finalists, two state winners and two national runners-up.

The judging and scoring process is the same at the local, state and national levels, all emphasizing excellence in scholarship, fitness, creativity and interpersonal relationships.

Cornn was named the county winner during the contest Aug. 6, 2022, in the Brownstown Central High School auditorium. That night, she won for self-expression, talent, scholastics and fitness, earning $400 for each. Then for taking the overall title, she received a $4,200 scholarship, a DYW charm, a flower bouquet from Anytime Florals and Gifts, a personalized tumbler and a Marshall Memories Photography photo session.

Overall, her scholarship winnings totaled $5,800, which she plans to put toward attending Miami University in Ohio and pursuing a career in the medical field.

Moving forward, Cornn gave a presentation on the Be Your Best Self platform to around 50 young girls from kindergarten through early teens at Girls Inc. of Jackson County in Seymour on Jan. 20. That platform focuses on five elements: Be Healthy, Be Involved, Be Studious, Be Ambitious and Be Responsible.

“Part of Marlo’s state requirements was writing an essay about being your best self and then presenting to a group of younger students,” said Holly Cornn, Marlo’s mother. “She also has spent time learning the new fitness routine and opening number, which must be memorized prior to the state competition, and practicing her piano piece for the talent portion.”

Holly said Marlo will stay with a host family Feb. 14 to 18 in Kokomo, where they recently had an information meeting.

“She got to meet her host family, roommate and all the other participants,” Holly said. “We are excited and nervous.”

Just like the county competition, contestants will be evaluated by a panel of judges in the following categories: Scholastics (25%), interview (25%), talent (20%), fitness (15%) and selfexpression (15%). There also is a Be Your Best Self essay contest.

The judges will be given access to the contestants’ school transcripts to determine their overall scholastic ability, while talents are done individually, and the contestants will do a group fitness routine and answer a self-expression question.

At state, two preliminary winners and an overall winner will be chosen in each category, and the senior with the best overall score will win the state title.

Marlo said as a result of participating in the DYW scholarship program last summer, she has become more confident in public speaking and appearances.

“All of this has helped me realize how fortunate I am to have won the competition and the impact that the competition can have on its participants,” she said.

Marlo said the scholarship money is a big part of the program itself, and it wasn’t until her senior year that she realized how important money for college can be.

Along with that, DYW has helped her gain experiences in interviewing, public speaking and overall confidence in herself.

“For my talent, I am playing a piece on the piano called ‘Comptine d’un autre ete: Lapres midi’ by Yann Tiersen,” she said. “I have a dress for piano, a knee-length dress for self-expression, a business attire outfit for an interview and a couple fun outfits for the opening numbers both nights.”

As the county winner, Cornn has made appearances in four parades this past fall and winter, and there is still one more coming up this summer. She also spoke to the Lions Club about giving money to Distinguished Young Woman for the coming year.

“I’m very excited to attend the state competition, and I think it is going to be a lot of fun. Of course, it is a little stressful, but I think the overall experience will be very worthwhile,” Cornn said. “It is unlike anything I have ever done before, but I think it is good to be pushed outside of my comfort zone.”