Elena Rippeon, of Westminster, topped girls from across the state to be named the winner of the Distinguished Young Women of Maryland Competition. For her victory, the rising Francis Scott Key High School senior earned $3,600 in scholarships.
Rippeon, who had previously been named Distinguished Young Woman of Greater Westminster, took part in the state competition Saturday at the Scott Center of Carroll Community College. As well as winning the overall title, she came in first in the Scholastic and Talent categories.
"It was an incredibly enjoyable experience," she said. "I loved spending time with my host family and the other girls."
Brooke Nixon, of Finksburg, who had previously been named the Distinguished Young Woman of Carroll County, was the runner-up in the state competition and the winner in the Interview and Self-Expression categories. She took home $2,100 in scholarships.
The contestants' total scores were based on performance in five areas: Scholastic (25 percent), Interview (25 percent), Talent (20 percent), Fitness (15 percent) and Self-Expression (15 percent). The Scholastic and Interview portions were judged prior to Saturday's competition.
With her scholarship winnings, Rippeon said she hopes to study biomedical engineering at Duke University, where she will apply in the fall.
Elena Rippeon, a Francis Scott Key High School junior, was already distinguished in fact: She's a tennis player, and a member of the school marching band an
Her interest in biomedical engineering bloomed early when an engineer visited her sixth-grade class at Carroll Lutheran School to present on various engineering fields. Five years later, having just completed her junior year of high school, Rippeon is enrolled in the biomedical science program at the Carroll County Career & Technology Center and completing AP classes in chemistry and calculus to help prepare her for her studies in college.
In her college search, she also looked for schools that would allow her to continue playing the clarinet in musical ensembles. Her winning talent performance in the DYW competition was a clarinet solo of Weber's Concertino for Clarinet.
She said she has been playing the clarinet for nine years. In order to prepare for DYW state competition, she practiced an hour per day for the five months between winning the local Greater Westminster competition in January and Saturday.
To stay on her game during the competition, Rippeon said, "It helps that I'm a calm person to begin with."
Still, she said keeping her mind occupied was the best way to keep stress down. While awaiting her interview, for example, she said she took a walk outside and practiced her clarinet piece.
As the state winner, Rippeon will compete in the National Finals next year in Mobile, Alabama, and said she is "certainly looking forward to it." She said she will likely perform another clarinet piece for the talent competition.
The Distinguished Young Women competition was founded in 1958 as America's Junior Miss. The Maryland event "promotes and rewards scholarship, leadership and talent in young women," according to the event's website.
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