DRAPER — Rachel Bouley, 17, a Woods Cross High School senior and St. Olaf parishioner, was named first runner-up in the 2019 Distinguished Young Woman of Utah scholarship program after competing at the Oct. 20 event at Juan Diego Catholic High School. She and 23 other young women from across the state vied for the title and $47,000 in scholarship money. As first runner-up Bouley received $5,500.
Bouley said she originally thought Distinguished Young Woman was a beauty pageant, but after talking with program representatives who came to the school, she discovered the program is instead focused on scholastics, leadership and personal accomplishment.
“When I learned about it, that it was not based on beauty, I totally wanted to do it,” she said.
In May, Bouley competed in the Davis County Distinguished Young Woman program, where she took first place in fitness and self-expression (interview), was named the Spirit of Distinguished Young Woman, and won $850 in scholarship money. Out of 19 contestants, she and four others were chosen to move on to the state competition.
At the state competition, the 24 contestants were judged on academics (cumulative GPAs and ACT scores), talent, interview and fitness. Bouley performed a piano solo, “Impromptu Op. 90 No. 2,” by Franz Schubert for the talent portion of the event.
“She played beautifully,” said Mary Hill, the program director.
At the end of the evening, Bouley finished as first runner-up to Sarah Sunof of Skyline High School, to the delight of family and friends.
“We just wanted her to have a good time and compete, but we were pleasantly surprised, given the quality and talent of the competition, at how well Rachel did,” her father, Joe Bouley, said.
“Rachel is smart, driven (in a good way), hardworking and a friend to everyone,” Joe Bouley said of his daughter.
Participating in the program was a very positive experience, Rachel Bouley said. “I loved everything about it; it was the best part of my entire junior year and beginning of my senior year,” she said. “For someone really competitive, I was able to feel happy for the girls next to me — I just felt such support from them. It was also really cool to connect with girls my age from all over the state and to see their talents.”
The program, which has a theme of “Be your best self,” also helped her with her interview skills and confidence on stage, she said.
Bouley has been accepted at the University of Alabama for the 2019 school year. She plans to study chemical engineering and take classes on the pre-med track. She has always been fascinated by health care and hopes to someday be an obstetrician/gynecologist, she said.
The Distinguished Young Woman scholarship program was formerly named Junior Miss, but 12 years ago, officials changed the name to focus more on “academics and accomplishments, not just looks,” Hill said, adding that the Utah program leads the nation in the dollar amount of scholarships it awards participants thanks to generous sponsors.