2024 EHS valedictorian Moira Larson in running for national Distinguished Young Women title

Moira Larson, Easthampton High School’s 2024 class valedictorian, is  representing Massachusetts in the 67th Distinguished Young Women National Finals later this week.

Moira Larson, Easthampton High School’s 2024 class valedictorian, is representing Massachusetts in the 67th Distinguished Young Women National Finals later this week. Provided by Distinguished Young Women

By ALEXA LEWIS

Staff Writer

Published: 06-22-2024 3:28 PM

EASTHAMPTON — After graduating from Easthampton High School as class valedictorian just a few weeks ago, Moira Larson is now in Mobile, Alabama to represent Massachusetts in the 67th Distinguished Young Women National Finals.

Larson is one of 50 young women selected to compete in the finals for $155,000 in cash scholarships. She will compete this Thursday through Saturday, being evaluated on her scholastics, interview skills, fitness, talent, and self-expression. The competition is just a small part of her experience, which she said has been “amazing” and “rewarding” so far.

“It’s just such an incredible experience to get to know girls from across the country,” said Larson.

Distinguished Young Women is a free program aimed at empowering young women by providing scholarship and networking opportunities, and the resources to develop their self-confidence, including life skills workshops that help to prepare them for successful lives after high school. According to their website, they are the largest scholarship program for high school girls, awarding over $1 billion in scholarship opportunities every year.

Larson served as a student representative for the Easthampton program before being selected to represent her state in Alabama this year, and got involved after hearing from friends about their experiences.

“I had known a lot of girls from my dance studio who had been involved in it, and had just had such a great experience,” she said.

Between preparations for her competition performances, Larson is participating in team-building activities, service projects, and events with her fellow Distinguished Young Women.

“It’s such an amazing learning process,” she said. “We learn so many important skills like interviews and confidence.”

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If Larson wins the final competition, she will be awarded the title of Distinguished Young Woman of America for 2024, along with scholarship money and the chance to spend the next year representing the Distinguished Young Women program across the country. This would mean making various appearances promoting the program’s outreach initiative called Be Your Best Self. This outreach program has goals to combat issues such as childhood obesity and high school dropout rates, while helping young people become active in their communities.

After concluding her experience in Alabama, Larson will begin preparing for her college studies. In the fall, she will attend Sacred Heart University, where she plans to major in nursing and minor in dance while also participating in the school’s dance company and community service opportunities. She said that she was excited to continue dancing in college, because it has long been a “huge part of [her] life.”

For right now though, Larson is making the most of her time with Distinguished Young Women, enjoying time with her peers while she tries her hand at everything from interview skill building to line dancing and competitive oyster eating. While she isn’t sure she’ll be able to beat the all-time oyster eating record of over 40 oysters, she’s certain that she will take the skills and relationships from her time at the Distinguished Young Women National Finals with her into the future.

“I’m just super excited to continue to embrace this experience and get to know all of these amazing girls,” she said. “They’re all so kind and, well, distinguished.”

Alexa Lewis can be reached at alewis@gazettenet.com or on Instagram and Twitter at @alexamlewis.