Defining Moment

Southwestern Central School’s Veronica Schuver said that she feels like she knows who she is now thanks to the Distinguished Young

Women program.

After becoming the winner of the 2012-13 Distinguished Young Women of the Lakewood Area competition, Schuver participated at

the statelevel competition held in Albany to place first runner-up Saturday.

According to Christine Yocum, cochairwoman, the state-level competition is similar in nature to the local one. So, Schuver was

judged on an interview, academics, talent, self-expression and fitness.

“She was a perfect fit, and she represented our community beautifully,” said Yocum. “She had everything that the state was looking for.”

Schuver, who is a native of Lakewood, traveled to Albany on Feb. 19 to prepare for the show at the performing arts center at University of Albany.

“It was a lot of fun. All the girls were super nice and the chair people really had it together-I have nothing negative to say about it,” said Schuver. “The theme of the program was ‘Time,’ so they had clocks on the set, and it was a really beautiful place to perform.”

For the talent section of the competition Schuver did a piano performance of Frederic Chopin’s “Nocturne” in E-flat major. For self-expression each competitor was asked the same question: “If you could go backward or forward in time, which would you choose and why?”

“I chose that I would prefer to go back in time and I gave the explanation that to me it’s important to meet your ancestors,” said Schuver. “An important part of defining who you are comes from who your family is. So, I would love to meet members of my family

that I never had the opportunity to meet. I also discussed how I wouldn’t want to travel to the future because I feel that knowing

where I ended up in life would discourage me from taking my own path in life – I think you should let life take you where it may.”

The Lakewood area competition showcased the talents of 15 regional high school seniors from seven different high schools –

Jamestown, Southwestern, Frewsburg, Maple Grove, Randolph, Chautauqua Lake and Falconer. Each young woman who placed in a category received scholarship money to go toward her college education.

Schuver won $3,375 at the Lakewood area competition. At the state level, representatives such as Schuver competed for a share of

more than $130,000 in cash scholarships. Brittany Egnot, of Albany, placed first and Schuver placed second. Schuver has not yet been informed as to how much she was awarded for placing first runnerup. But, she took home a lot more than money, she said.

“The program has helped define who I am,” said Schuver. “I have found confidence in it, and I think I’ve improved my interview skills a lot. It also helps to find girls who have similar interests and values to you – girls who have busy lifestyles, that are involved in a lot of things and are talented. It’s great to meet them and share experiences.”

With the scholarship money that Schuver won from both competitions she hopes to attend Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa., to pursue math or business. She is currently a senior at Southwestern Central School, and is playing clarinet in the school’s musical “Bye Bye Birdie.”

Schuver’s parents are Bill and DeeDee Schuver, of Lakewood. Schuver said that they’ve been incredibly loving and supportive throughout the experience.

Although placing first runner-up did not earn her a spot in the national program, Distinguished Young Women of America, Schuver said that she feels participating has given her skills that she will be able to use in her future life and career. She’ll also participate in next year’s Lakewood area program to help emcee, write a speech and present herself on stage one last time as a Distinguished Young Woman of Lakewood.

For more information on the program visit ajm.org.