Aleksandra Knepper winner of statewide scholarship program
*The following press release is from staff reports for the Cumberland Times-News
FROSTBURG — Aleksandra Knepper of Frostburg was recently named the Distinguished Young Woman of Maryland 2013 and was awarded $1,900 in cash scholarships during a statewide scholarship program at Carroll Community College in Westminster.
“It still hasn’t hit me yet, I’m shocked,” said Knepper in an interview with the Times-News. “The girls that I competed with last week were the most talented, most hard-working and most diligent women. I’m delighted to be chosen to represent the state. It’s a huge honor.”
Knepper was one of 15 high school girls who competed to represent the state as the Distinguished Young Woman of Maryland.
“Based on what the judges said, Aleksandra is very well-rounded, is very physically fit and is multitalented,” said Cheri Poklemba, executive director of the Maryland division of Distinguished Young Woman, in an interview with the Times-News.
Participants in the scholarship program were evaluated in the categories of scholastics, interview, fitness, self-expression and talent. The contestants are judged separately on academics by scholars from McDaniel College in Westminster.
“Aleksandra scored very high in scholastics and she is very interested in taking full advantage of the full scholarships,” said Poklemba. “There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes. People don’t see the academic portion because it’s done separately beforehand.”
In addition to cash scholarships, Distinguished Young Woman participants are eligible for college-granted scholarships from almost 200 colleges and universities, according to the Distinguished Young Woman Website.
Knepper is considering Randolph College in Lynchburg, Va.; Troy University in Alabama and the University of South Alabama, all of which offer full tuition for renewable scholarships to state winners. Full scholarships require that recipients have a certain ACT or SAT score and maintain a designated grade-point average.
Knepper, who plans on a dual major in mass communications and psychology, is also considering McDaniel College, where she is eligible to earn a four-year $25,000 scholarship.
“I have requested more information from all the schools. Now the hard part is narrowing it down,” said Knepper.
Throughout the next year, Knepper will represent Maryland at various public events and serve as a role model to young people by spreading the program’s national outreach message of “Be Your Best Self.” The outreach program is designed to encourage self-esteem and excellence in all young people through its five principles: Be Healthy, Be Involved, Be Studious, Be Ambitious and Be Responsible.
Knepper is the daughter of David Knepper and is a senior at Mountain Ridge High School. She holds a 4.17 GPA while being involved in all advanced placement and honors courses, is a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council, “Diamonds” Dance Team, French Club and the varsity track team. She has also been involved in martial arts at Kick Masters Karate, where she has achieved her first-degree adult black belt. In addition, Knepper studies vocal technique under the instruction of Jeanlynn Lewis-Barrera of Cumberland.
The 56th Distinguished Young Woman of America National finals will take place in Mobile, Ala., in June 2013. Knepper, along with 49 other state representatives, will participate in personal development activities and community service projects before competing for the national title and additional cash scholarships.
Distinguished Young Woman, which was formerly known as America’s Junior Miss, has awarded the title to some of the nation’s brightest and most talented young women, including Diane Sawyer in 1963, Deborah Norville (Georgia’s Junior Miss 1975) and Debra Messing (Rhode Island’s Junior Miss 1986).
To book Knepper for a speaking engagement, contact Cheri Poklemba at 443-277-7694