Meet this year’s Distinguished Young Women participants

A lexandra Abbott is the daughter of Tom and Patti Abbott.

“I decided to participate because it will be a good learning experience, as well as a chance to get to know my peers better,” Abbott said. “This will help me develop the skills to work with and learn with a diverse group of people.”

Abbott said the most difficult part of the event has been the Zumba Fitness test and if she was given the chance she would set up programs to help people find jobs.

For her talent, Abbott will perform a ballet dance.

After graduation she plans on studying massage therapy at SUNY Morrisville.


Marissa L. Alexander is the daughter of Timothy and Helen Alexander.

An experienced dancer, Alexander plans to perform a Celtic dance as her talent because it’s one of her favorite styles.

She feels that her participation will help “reinforce life lessons such as confidence, healthy competition, perseverance, exhibiting talents and self-expression.”

Alexander feels the most difficult part of the event is coming up with an answer to a random question on the spot.

She also believes the economic hardship experienced by U.S. citizens is the biggest issue in the world right now.

Alexander plans on attending college next fall.


Chantel Baker is the daughter of Mae Lambert and Rusty Baker.

She decided to participate in the Distinguished Young Women program because it presented an opportunity to dance and hang out with friends before she graduates.

She feels her participation will help her develop more confidence in a crowd of people and improve her interviewing skills, but it’s not stage fright that Baker has found difficult.

“The most challenging part of the Distinguished Young Women is the eight hour fitness test,” Baker said.

She feels that starvation is the most important issue in the world.

After high school, Baker will attend St. Lawrence and study pre-law and psychology.


Kathryn E. Barrett is the daughter of Wayne and Elizabeth Barrett.

“I decided to participate because I have seen the past shows and it seems like a joyful time and a great experience. This experience will help me be more comfortable speaking and performing in front of an audience,” Barrett said.

Although she feels that talent portion of the event is the most difficult, Barrett will perform a ballet to the song Lucy by Skillet.

“I choose this talent because I love dancing and ballet is a very distinguished style of dance,” she said.

Barrett plans to attend SUNY Canton and become a veterinary technician.


Maggie Benjamin is the daughter of Jeff and Karen Benjamin.

Benjamin’s interest in the participating in the Distinguished Young Women program was fostered by her experience as little sister.

“Ever since that I have wanted to participate in the program,” she said. “I felt that it would be a good experience and will help me take on new challenges.”

Benjamin said one of those challenges is overcoming the fear of being alone in front of an audience.

For her talent, Benjamin will perform a tap dance.

If given the opportunity, she would write her elected officials and encourage them to create jobs for persons with any level of education.

Next fall, Benjamin will attend college and hopes to become a doctor.


Marissa Black is the daughter of Darcy Black.

“I decided to participate in the Distinguished Young Women program for the experience, Black said. “It will help me with public speaking and being able to work with a group of people.”

Black will perform a lyrical dance for her talent.

“Although I’ve only been dancing for three years I am very passionate about it,” she said,

Black says the most difficult part of the event is the fitness test feels the bullying is the biggest issue in the world today.


Janelle Cahee is the daughter of Paula and Ralph Cahee.

An experienced singer, Cahee will sing “Soak up the Sun” as her talent.

She decided to participate in the Distinguished Young Women program because she thought it would be fun and a good experience.

“I feel that it will help me be more self-confident,” she said.

Cahee said the hardest part of the program is dancing because is something she’s hasn’t done much of.

She feels global warming is the biggest issue facing the world and would encourage people to recycle more.

Cahee plans to attend college next fall and major in psychology and computer science.


Marion Gendron is the daughter of Robert and Jane Gendron.

Gendron chose to participate in the Distinguished Young Women because of the challenge it presents, particularly in the self-expression portion of the program, and the confidence she’ll gain from stepping out of her comfort zone.

“The program has exemplified exactly how I important self-confidence is. I know that if I feel doubtful in the future, I can reflect on what the program fostered in me.”

For her talent, Gendron will perform Audrey Hepburn’s “Moon River” en pointe from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” her favorite film.

Following her graduation, Gendron hopes to attend college in New York City where she will study journalism and philosophy, perhaps providing her a forum she can use to teach people common sense practices to help reduce the depletion of the world’s natural resources, an issue she feels is very important.


Rachael Lynn Kasuba is the daughter of Stanley and Patricia Kasuba.

Despite all the late night practices Kasuba choose to participate in the Distinguished Young Women program because it’s something she’s wanted to do since she was a little sister.

“Also because it’s a very fun way to create closer friendships with my fellow contestants. It’s taught me how to work well with others and to be more open with sharing my thoughts and ideas,” Kasuba said.

She will perform a lyrical ballet because dance has been one her passions since she was a little girl.

Kasuba will attend the University of Buffalo to study creative art therapy and psychology, disciplines that could help her with bullying victims.


Lia McKee is the daughter of Nancy Dullary and Steven McKee.

For McKee, participating in the Distinguished Young Women program is an opportunity to follow in the family footsteps.

“I saw my older sister Desirea up there, and how much fun she had doing the program that I wanted to try it,” she said.

Despite a case of stage fright and no previous acting experience, McKee will perform a monologue for her special talent.

“I think this experience will help improve my confidence and give me a more positive outlook,” she said.

She believes poverty and unemployment are the biggest issues in the world right now and would create a world currency and put people back to work.

McKee will attend SUNY Adirondack next year and hopes to study art.


Patricia Jean Snow is the daughter of Leonard and Kathleen DeRidder Jr.

For her talent, Snow will perform a lyrical dance because as she says, “I enjoy dancing as it’s a way to express myself.”

“I feel Distinguished Young Women Program will help as I move forward in my life by preparing me for all the obstacles life throws my way, whether it’s an interview for a job or just everyday living.”

Snow feels that laziness is the most important issue in the world today and the only way change can be affected is to change ones attitude.

“Having a positive attitude on life can help you succeed.”

After school, Snow will attend Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, followed by AIT at Fort Sam Houston. She hopes to return home in December and study Criminal Justice.


Emily Sweeney is the daughter of Andrea and Emily Sweeney.

For Sweeney participation in the Distinguished Young Women program is a chance to overcome her stage fright.

“It’s a stepping stone for me to conquer my own fear,” she said. “It was a way to express myself and have fun.”

Sweeney would like to express herself by explaining the realities of the world and dispelling the American ignorance, issues she feels are very important.

For her talent, Sweeney will perform a jazz number, “Ain’tMisbehavin’” on the alto saxophone.

“I’ve loved music since I was little. My jazz interest started when I first heard Michael Buble,” Sweeney said.

After high school, Sweeney plans to study international business at RIT, RPI or the University of Maine.







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