Teen heads to national competition

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Kennedy Miller smiles as friends and family react to her talent outfit Sunday during her reception at The Bellemonte House Bed & Breakfast on the campus of N.C. Wesleyan.


Telegram Correspondent

Monday, May 21, 2018

The historic Bellemonte House Bed and Breakfast on the campus of N.C. Wesleyan College has probably seen a lot of history-making events over the course of its 200-plus years of existence.

But Sunday’s afternoon gathering of supporters to send off local 2018 Distinguished Young Woman of Rocky Mount, Kennedy Miller, before she travels to the National Distinguished Young Woman competition in Mobile, Ala., may add another history-making event to the home’s list of tales to tell.

Longtime friend and voice coach to Miller, Patsy Gilliland, said Kennedy is destined to be a world changer.

“She just has such a keen sense of curiosity, always ready for the next challenge and has such a ‘can-do’ spirit,” Gilliland said. “I have no doubt whatever she does in the future, it’s going to be big and probably change the world for the better in some way.”

Miller has been a member of Gilliland’s Tar River Children’s Chorus since she was in the fifth grade.

Miller will have to hold off on changing the world until after the upcoming national competition taking place at the end of June.

Miller, a senior at Faith Christian School, competed in the local Distinguished Young Woman event last fall and went on to win the North Carolina Distinguished Young Woman title in February. Between the two competitions, she’s garnered a total of $14,950 in scholarship funds from the program. She plans to attend the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in the fall.

“I am so humbled and thankful for the opportunity I had to get involved with Distinguished Young Women,” Kennedy said Sunday.

Miller’s parents, Blair and Gary Miller, agree it’s been a great experience to be involved with the Distinguished Young Women program.

“Win or lose, she’s a better person for being involved and she has really absorbed their message of ‘Put your best self forward,’” Blair Miller said.

Miller said Sharon Dees, Distinguished Young Women of Rocky Mount chairwoman, has been a great mentor and good friend.

Dees said she’s so excited for Miller and she plans to go to Alabama to cheer her on.

“Kennedy has such a maturity about her and a depth of character that you don’t see in girls her age,” Dees said. “Everything she does, she does with excellence — and she pursues important things. I’ve loved seeing her grow through the Distinguished Young Woman program and see her sense of confidence in herself really blossom.”

“This whole process has made me a better person, a better version of myself, and I don’t think that would have happened if I hadn’t gotten involved,” Miller said. “I remember sitting at the interest meeting and not being sure I should do it. Today, I would tell any girl out there — ‘Do this.’ It has been such a positive experience, and I am so grateful I got this chance.”

Dees said there is still time for local girls to get involved in the next cycle of Distinguished Young Women of Rocky Mount. Rising seniors that live in Nash County can contact Dees via email at rockymount@distinguishedyw.org by June 1 to get involved.

The National Distinguished Women event will be held at the Mobile Civic Center Theater in Mobile, Ala. Information on how to livestream the event beginning on June 28 can be found at www.DistinguishedYW.org