Senior Kayla-Nicole Tamayo recently participated in the annual Distinguished Young Women’s (DYW) scholarship program, with applicants competing in five different areas: scholarship achievement, interview, talent, physical fitness and self expression. Tamayo won the scholarship awards in fitness and talent, along with the Spirit Award, which is awarded to the participant who best embodies the spirit of the program as voted by the other participants.
“My mom’s friend introduced this scholarship program to me, and thought it would be a great experience. I wanted to try something new and challenging, as well as meet other ambitious girls from different schools,” said Tamayo.
Both ambition and drive are expected of the program’s participants, as the evaluation process they go through is extensive. “We had these dress rehearsals, or training sessions, with alumni Distinguished Young Women’s motivational speakers. And then we had to perform a talent—mine was self-choreographed. Other girls, they did a monologue, or they sang, or played another instrument,” said Tamayo. “We had to learn a fitness routine, and then we had to do a question in front of everybody—a self expression—to show our personality.”
Tamayo’s talent included aspects of both dance and playing the trumpet. “I had been dancing for four years before joining the marching band. Once I joined the marching band, I really enjoyed it, and because my parents believe in giving back to your school, I took a break from dance to focus on being involved in school related activities,” said Tamayo. “Dance was always a big part of my life, so although I was taking a break, it was still very much a part of me. Because I was given solos in marching band with both dance and trumpet, so that’s why I wanted to incorporate both.”
Throughout the course of the program, Tamayo has had many people help her along the way, both in and out of DYW. “They supported me, they came to the event,” said Tamayo. “They helped me with talking exercises and they gave feedback.”
Her friends played a big part in supporting Tamayo as she worked hard on the various areas of evaluation. “Since I spend so much time with her, she usually brought up the topic of the scholarship program. So when she did, I sometimes would just encourage her, or tell her that she could do it and stuff like that,” said Tamayo’s friend Senior Adrian Pulido. “For her talent portion of the program, she had to play a short piece of music for trumpet, so she actually asked me for help a little bit, like critiquing her on how she could improve since we are both in band.”
The strong support Tamayo received from those close to her helped her succeed in the program, despite facing obstacles. “During this whole process I had my band trip, which conflicted with practices. But, I had some of the girls help me along the way,” said Tamayo. “Also, time management was hectic, like I was rushing on to finish my talent, and with my busy schedule, it was very hard for me to focus on my talent.”
The support she received from her friends and family helped her to overcome the challenges she faced and do well in the competition. “She did very well in talent,” said friend and fellow DYW program participant Waipahu High School Senior Casey Metrose. “She was very unique in talent because she played her instrument and danced.”
As both a cheerleader and a member of the marching band at MHS, Tamayo’s busy schedule reflects how much effort she has put into the skills she showcased throughout the competition. “In the summertime, it was very hectic, like our practice times would conflict, but I had to just keep in contact with both Coach Renesha and Mr. (Derek) Kaapana, and tell them where I’m at and what’s going to happen for the day,” said Tamayo.
Tamayo plans on attending the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) next year, where she will continue to work towards her dreams. “I plan on going to UNLV, joining the medical program, possibly becoming a pediatrician because I love kids. And then I also want to get a dance career,” said Tamayo. “I’m planning to audition for the Poms team, or the Rebel girls.”
Tamayo won $1,000 from the talent portion, $500 from the fitness portion and $750 from winning the Spirit Award. Earning an overall total of $2,250 from the DYW program, she will put the money towards her future in paying for college.