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York County's Distinguished Young Woman won a $1,000 scholarship in the Distinguished Young Women's national competition last weekend for her self-expression, which is a short speech written in response to a question.

Rose Arbittier won both the York County and Pennsylvania titles for the program last year, earning her a spot in the national competition that took place in Mobile, Alabama, this past weekend. She competed against 50 young women, one representative from each state and the District of Columbia.

Her speech was in response to the question, "What's something that you absolutely cannot leave at home when you go to school." Arbittier said she spoke of a sentimental gift that her older brother, Jacob, had given her when he was 10 and she was 7, a wadded ball of yellow yarn he had attempted to knit for her. She spoke of her excitement to take that ball of yarn from her bedroom wall and hang it on the wall of her dorm room in the fall.

Competition: Those participating in nationals compete in five categories: scholastic, interview, talent, fitness and self-expression. Lyn Bergdoll, the program chair for York County's Distinguished Young Women program, said Arbittier was the ninth woman from York County to attend nationals on behalf of Pennsylvania.

"She said that it was a totally positive experience in every way," Bergdoll said. "She is such an exceptional young woman, and to compete at the national level is truly a privilege and one she deserved."

The girls are chosen to compete at the county level in their junior year in high school. The county competition occurs in May of each year, with the state competition following in August. The winner of the state competition competes in the national program after she has graduated from high school.

The competitions are not beauty pageants, Bergdoll stressed, but are focused on scholarship and being a well-rounded leader and role model.

Bonds: Arbittier said her favorite thing about competing in nationals was the bonds she formed.

"I was super overwhelmed when I got there because of the talent and accomplishments these girls had, but after a few days it didn't feel like a competition," Arbittier said. "We were all so happy for whoever won. I think at that point we didn't really care about the scholarship money; that's not the reason we were there."

Arbittier graduated from Dallastown Area High School in May and will continue on to Princeton University in the fall to study public policy with a concentration in nonprofit management. She said the Distinguished Young Women program helped prepare her for college and that the York County program helped prepare her to compete on a national level.

"The York program was so supportive," she said. "I don't think I would have been as successful without that support system."

Rebecca Young-Kingston won the most recent county contest, according to Bergdoll. She will leave at the end of July to compete in the state competition on Aug. 6.

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