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By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The Distinguished Young Women of Keizer crowned two victors in the scholarship program Saturday, May 14.

Camille Nelson and Ehlana Struth were named the co-winners. The program, formerly known as Junior Miss, allows young women to compete for scholarship opportunities based on an interview, talents and academic achievement. This year the Keizer Distinguished Young Women program is sending two contestants on to the state program and the Nelson and Struth are considered co-winners.

The win came as a surprise to Nelson.

“Usually, one person takes most of the awards, but this year, a lot of us won at least one award so I had no idea who was going to get it,” she said.

Nelson performed a technical vocal solo for her talent and said it was the part of the program she worked the hardest on.

Watching as several of the contestants won some award left Struth with a positive feeling overall.

“Until that day, I don’t thing any of us thought of it as a competition, we just wanted to help and encourage each other,” Struth said.

A clarinetist since fifth grade, Struth performed a solo for her part in the talent competition.

Both winners felt the self-expression segment, in which contestants answer a question on stage, was the most difficult aspect of the program.

“We got the twelve questions the night before, but drew the one we would answer out of a bowl that night. Answering it in front of the audience took it to a whole new level,” Struth said.

Struth and Nelson are both eager for the adventures competing at the state program with the potential to move onto the national program in July if selected as the state’s representative.

“We had such a great time getting ready for the local program, I’m excited to meet all the girls at the state program and start it all over again,” Nelson said.

Struth said the biggest thing she’ll be taking away from the Distinguished Young Women experience is self-confidence to stretch beyond her comfort zone.

“It pushed me out of that, just having to work together with the girls, and I’m looking forward to more of it at the state competition,” she said.

Nelson is the daughter of Neil and Laurie Nelson and Struth is the daughter of Dennis and Rhonda Struth.

Bailey Pilant was selected as the first alternate for the state competition.

Tiffany Chang won the scholarship award, Logan Holley won the fitness award, Pilant won the self-expression award; Nelson won the talent award and Struth captured awards in interview, spirit and for the Be-your-best-self essay.