Teen earns 'distinguished' title

COSTA MESA — An Estancia High School junior will represent Costa Mesa as she advances to the Distinguished Young Women's state competition this summer.

Lauren Peterson, 16, won the title of Distinguished Young Woman of Costa Mesa at the program's regional Southern California Awards Scholarship competition on April 30. She will compete for the state title at the end of July for the chance to represent California at a national competition in Mobile, Ala.

Distinguished Young Women, formerly named the Junior Miss Scholarship program, is a pageant, but Lauren is quick to clarify it's not about beauty or ball gowns.

The girls have to have a talent and answer questions, but it's more about finding your true self and developing into a better person, she said.

"I didn't really have to learn anything to be in the pageant, but I did learn a lot about myself," she said.

Lauren said she feels far behind her friends who know what they want to study in college; she is undecided. She has narrowed her choices to child development, medical engineering and dentistry, but only if she gets into USC — one of her top three college choices.

Lauren already has a well-rounded list of academics, athletes, leadership positions and extra curriculars to help her get into her dream schools and also helped her in the pageant.

Lauren is taking three AP classes, plays varsity volleyball and swimming and plans to cheer on the varsity team in the fall.

She serves as the president and founder of the campus' Invisible Children's Club, president of the Environmental Awareness Club, vice president of Key Club and a member of Film Club.

The Costa Mesa resident has always wanted to try a pageant, but it wasn't until her voice teacher suggested the Distinguished Young Women program that she decided to give it a try.

She used her voice as her talent, singing Adele's "Rolling in the Deep," but the competition was more about trying something different and new, she said.

Lauren said she has a couple things to do to prepare for the state competition, but mostly she is going for the experience.

"I'm not going to state to win a scholarship," she said. "I want to get out of the program with a whole bunch of new friends and a good experience I can look back on."

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World