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Distinguished Young Women Program Scheduled On Saturday
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A total of 17 Oakdale High School juniors will be participating in the annual Distinguished Young Women of Oakdale program on Saturday, Feb. 22. The program is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. at Magnolia School Auditorium. Soroptimist International of Oakdale has sponsored the program for the past 32 years. Oakdale High School senior Jaden Chau currently holds the title of Oakdale’s Distinguished Young Woman.

In the Feb. 12 issue of The Leader, eight of the 17 hopefuls were profiled: Nicole Brunker, Mackenzie Carreira, Kylie Davis, Carley Denys, Harmony Edwards, Alexis Hamby, Stephanie Hauser, and Madison Hoffman.

This week, profiles of the remaining nine participants are offered. They include, in alphabetical order, Lauren Kiely, Caroline Krum, Hannah Lee, Charlotte Liekhus, Ava Merchant, Olivia Mondragon, Jadyn Rau, Leilani Roper, and Hannah Sundberg.


Lauren Kiely

Following graduation from Oakdale High School, Lauren would like to attend UC San Diego to study nursing with the career goal of becoming a nurse practitioner. Lauren is a member of the OHS Water Polo team. Lauren is also a member of the Leadership class and the Green Club. Lauren has also volunteered her time helping with a “Shop with a Cop” event and posse dinner. She plays the violin and also practices yoga and Reiki energy healing methods. Other interests of Lauren’s include energy work and sustainability. Supporting Lauren in all that she does are her parents Cara and Erin Kiely and sister Kendall.


Caroline Krum

Caroline would like to attend Brigham Young University to study to become a special education/elementary school teacher following graduation from Oakdale High School. Caroline is active on the OHS campus serving in the S Club and Interact Club. She is also a member of the school’s Academic Decathlon and tennis teams. Caroline has received the Kiwanis Hope of America and Pam Antinetti Achievement in Science awards as well as Academic Decathlon Honors Division Speech, Super Quiz, and Literature awards. In addition, she has received recognition for her volunteer hours and was also selected Student of the Month. Caroline has volunteered her time with the Astro Foundation Club, Outdoor Ed, and Camp Liahona, and she has worked with children, the elderly, and performed community work with her church. She is a member of her church’s youth group, takes Bible study classes, and studies classical ballet and jazz/stunt dancing. Caroline’s interests include art and art history, literature, playing the piano, and dance. Supporting Caroline in all of her endeavors are parents Ivie and Justin Krum, sisters Haidyn and Taylor, and brother Evan.


Hannah Lee

Following graduation from Oakdale High School, Hannah would like to attend Brigham Young University, Provo, and study to become an occupational therapist. At OHS, Hannah is active on the Varsity Water Polo team and received the Impact Player and Best Defense awards for her efforts. She also received the Most Valuable Player award while she was a member of the Junior Varsity team. Also at OHS, Hannah volunteers her time with the S Club and runs the shot clock and keeps score for water polo games. Hannah has performed various community service work with her youth group at church including serving as a volunteer junior counselor at Girls Camp. In her free time, Hannah enjoys playing the piano and learning new music, reading, and watching movies with her family. Supporting Hannah in all of her endeavors are parents Debbie and Troy Lee, brothers Kaleb, Tyler, Braden, Spencer, Jordan, and Nathanial, and sisters Alyssa, Cassie, and Whitney.


Charlotte Liekhus

With an interest in helping people, Charlotte plans to attend college to study to become a social worker. At Oakdale High School, Charlotte participates on the water polo and swim teams. In water polo, Charlotte received Defensive Player of the Year her sophomore year and Most Valuable Player her junior year. Charlotte participates in leadership at OHS and received the Outstanding Freshman Award and Most Energetic Award her sophomore year for her efforts. Charlotte was also selected Oakdale’s Homecoming Princess her sophomore year. She participates in the on-campus Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Kind Living, and Lifeguard clubs. In addition to water polo, Charlotte enjoys arts and crafts, traveling, lifeguarding, and floral arranging. Encouraging Charlotte in all that she does are her parents Jenny and Andy Liekhus, brothers Cole and Cullen, and sister Chloe.


Ava Merchant

Following graduation from Oakdale High School, Ava would like to attend UC Irvine, UC Berkeley, USC, or the AMDA (American Musical and Dramatic Academy) to study music and acting. At OHS, Ava is a Literacy Center tutor and also tutors outside of school. In addition, Ava is a Section Leader for Show Choir as well as a member of the Drama Club where she participates in plays and musicals. She serves as Publicist/Historian for the Interact Club and is President of the French Club. A professional singer and pianist, Ava has volunteered her time for community events. Her achievements include an International Thespian Society National Thespian Award, MAMA (Modesto Area Music Awards) nomination, and Stanislaus County Poetry Contest runner up. Ava is a keyboardist for her church. Climate change awareness, mental health stigma, ethical treatment of animals, literature, painting, and drawing are some of Ava’s interests. Supporting Ava in all of her endeavors are her parents Susan and Robert Merchant and siblings Rachel, Kristen, and Donald.


Olivia Mondragon

Following graduation from Oakdale High School, Olivia plans to attend college and major in psychology for a career as a child psychologist. At OHS, Olivia has participated in the Oakdale Future Farmers of America program and has been a member of the Science Olympiad and Academic Decathlon teams. Olivia has also participated in the Color Guard at OHS, a competition and performance team. Currently, she volunteers her time with the S Club and Interact Club and participates in community projects such as river side cleanup projects. Olivia has received her Academic Block O in recognition of her academic achievements. In her free time, she enjoys reading, painting, baking, exercising, and babysitting. Encouraging Olivia in all that she does are her parents Violet and Patrick Mondragon and brother Adam.


Jadyn Rau

A student athlete at Oakdale High School, Jadyn participates on the basketball, softball, and track teams. Jadyn has been recognized with a Student of the Month – Doing High School Right Award for being an exemplary example on campus. Following graduation from OHS, Jadyn would like to attend Stanford University and study medicine with a career goal of becoming an anesthesiologist. She enjoys serving others and has volunteered her time with her church’s Vacation Bible School, basketball camp, softball camp, and youth group. In her spare time, Jadyn enjoys baking, reading, and crafts. Supporting Jadyn in all that she does are her parents Michelle and Chris Rau, brother Jace, and sisters Kya and Lyric.


Leilani Roper

With an interest in helping children, Leilani would like to attend Kaiser Medical School and study to become a pediatric trauma surgeon. Leilani is active in the Drama Club at Oakdale High School. She was honored by the Oakdale Kiwanis Club with their Hope of America Award. This award recognized Leilani’s academic accomplishments, leadership, and good character. Leilani’s volunteer service has included assisting at Astoria Senior Living and she currently volunteers as an office aide at OHS as well as a stage manager for the performing arts department. She enjoys singing, writing songs and playing the piano. She also enjoys drawing, painting, reading, working crossword puzzles, and challenging herself with Sudoku. Leilani’s other interests include running, volunteering, and mentoring others. Supporting Leilani in all that she does are parents Kristin and John Roper and brother Vincent.


Hannah Sundberg

Hannah would like to attend Oklahoma State University and study to become a dairy nutritionist following graduation from Oakdale High School. At OHS, Hannah participates in the Future Farmers of America (FFA) program. She has shown sheep at the Stanislaus County Fair over the past few years and won numerous awards in showmanship. Currently an officer in the FFA program, Hannah has also served on the Oakdale FFA Livestock Evaluation team and attended a National FFA Conference. She has received California FFA State Degree, Green Hand Degree, and Chapter Degree Recipient awards. Hannah is also a member of the OHS cheerleading team and previously served as Faculty/Staff Recognition Chair for the Associated Student Body. Her volunteer work has included assisting her Dance Club, Relay For Life, coaching basketball, and helping with a community closet effort. Keeping up with Hannah and all of her activities are her parents Ammie and Steven Sundberg and brother Braydon.


This year’s 17 candidates from the Class of 2021 will compete in five categories: Scholastics, Talent, Fitness, Interview, and Self Expression for the Distinguished Young Woman of Oakdale title as well as category and other scholarship awards totaling $7,850. The candidate selected as Oakdale’s Distinguished Young Woman will go on to compete in the Distinguished Young Women of California program this summer.

Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for children and students and may be purchased at the event. The doors will open for tickets and seating at 6 p.m. For more information, contact Nancy Lilly (209) 607-7605.

Begun in 1958, Distinguished Young Women has impacted the lives of more than 770,000 young women. The mission is to empower high school young women by providing scholarship opportunities, developing self-confidence and teaching crucial life skills needed for success in college and beyond. National sponsors include Mobile County, City of Mobile, Barbara Barrington Jones Family Foundation, Alabama Power Foundation, Master Boat Builders, Wintzell’s Oyster House, Encore Rehabilitation, Regions Financial Corporation, Evonik, Jostens and Alabama Media Group.