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Oakdales Distinguished Young Women Get Stage Ready
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The annual Distinguished Young Women of Oakdale program will be held on Saturday, March 11, at 7 p.m. at Magnolia School Auditorium. Soroptimist International of Oakdale has sponsored the program for the past 29 years. Oakdale High School senior Annalise VanderVeen currently holds the title of Oakdale’s Distinguished Young Woman.

Founded in 1958 in Mobile, Alabama, Distinguished Young Women is the largest and oldest national scholarship program for high school girls. During its 59 years of operation, the program has provided life-changing experiences for more than 745,000 young women. Last year, Distinguished Young Women provided more than $1.1 billion in cash and college scholarship opportunities to program participants at the local, state and national level. Previously known as America’s Junior Miss, the program announced its new name in June 2010.

The mission of Distinguished Young Women is to positively impact the lives of young women by providing a transformative experience that promotes and rewards scholarship, leadership and talent. National sponsors include Mobile County, City of Mobile, Wintzell’s Oyster House, Alabama Power Foundation, Master Boat Builders, Barbara Barrington Jones Family Foundation, Encore Rehabilitation, Regions Financial Corporation, Alabama Media Group, the State of Alabama Tourism Department and Alabama RC&D Council.

Oakdale’s program features 10 participants from the Class of 2018. Biographies and photos for the first five appear in this week’s issue. The second five will appear in the issue of March 8.


Kylee Black

Kylee is active in sports at Oakdale High School. She participates in soccer and cross country. She also enjoys hiking, kayaking, snowboarding, longboarding and spike ball. Kylee has received her Academic Block O as well as her Athletic Block O at OHS. Honors she has received include: Best Offensive Player Award in soccer as well as the Hope of America Award. Kylee has provided service to her community through Love Oakdale and Helping Hands events and has served as a girls’ camp counselor as well as provided camp site maintenance and restoration work. Following graduation, she plans to attend Utah State and major in physical therapy. Supporting Kylee every step of the way are her parents Heather and Jeffery Black and brothers Logan, Cael, and Grey.


Gabrielle Ceja

At Oakdale High School, Gabrielle participates in the Model United Nations and Science Olympiad programs, is active in the Pre-Med and Service Clubs, and serves as an English Tutor and Art Department volunteer. Gabrielle is a Junior Volunteer at Oak Valley Hospital and has also participated in Love Oakdale community service projects. She has been recognized with an American Association of University Women’s Speech Trek Award, Stanislaus County and Regional Science Fair Awards, Chamber of Commerce Junior Achievement Award, and JUMP Dance Competition Division Award. She enjoys playing the piano, guitar, and flute and loves all forms of dance. Interests include forensic sciences, psychology, math, and musicals. Gabrielle would like to attend the University of Washington and study to become a forensic pathologist. Encouraging Gabrielle in all of her endeavors are her parents Tena and Tony Ceja and brother Tristan.


Alexa Da Rosa

Alexa is involved in many school activities at Oakdale High School and serves as an English Literacy Tutor. In addition to this, Alexa is very active in on-campus clubs such as the Pre-Med, PHAST, Service, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Travel Clubs. She has also received her Academic Block O Award at OHS. She volunteers with the Youth Decoy Program and also volunteers every summer for Kids Campus Vacation Bible School at her church. She has been recognized for her service by the Kiwanis Club with the Hope of America Award. Alexa is an alumna of the Junior National Young Leaders Conference and attended the 2013 Presidential Inauguration through that organization. Alexa’s interests include traveling, providing child care, and volunteering. Following graduation from OHS, Alexa plans to attend a UC and study pediatric medicine. Alexa’s proud supporters are parents Susana and James Da Rosa and sister Elyse.


Karima Ghimire

At Oakdale High School, Karima is active in the Model United Nations program, serves as an English Literacy Tutor, and participates in the Pre-Med, Service, PHAST, Gay Straight Alliance, Travel, and Cultural Cuisine Clubs. Karima is also a member of the National Honor Society Homestead Division. She has been honored with the BANWO Monthly Member Award, Green and White Award, and Journalism Junior Editor Award. Karima serves her community as an Oak Valley Hospital Junior Volunteer. Her interests include drawing, reading poetry, yoga, spending time with friends and family, travelling, and photography. Following graduation from OHS, Karima plans to attend a four-year university and study medicine. Karima’s biggest supporters are her parents Nira Koirala and Kaptan Ghimire, brother Karan, and sister Kanchan.


Maya Guerrero

Maya is a member of the Varsity Water Polo team at Oakdale High School and assisted the team in its 2015 and 2016 league wins as well as its first and second finish, respectively, at the next level. Maya received her Athletic Block O for her efforts. She enjoys playing guitar and ukulele, singing, and playing in a band. During the summer months, Maya works as a lifeguard and swim instructor. Maya’s community service activities have included assisting with the Oakdale CAPS volunteers’ meal distribution on Thanksgiving Day, Oakdale Rescue Mission clothes drives, and a local National Night Out event. She has also volunteered for St. Mary’s Church at its International Festival and as a vacation bible school teacher’s aide. Maya’s interests include sports nutrition, human rights, and current events. After graduation, Maya plans to attend Evergreen State College. She aspires to be a sports nutritionist and yoga instructor. Keeping up with Maya are parents Keri and Benito Guerrero, brothers Joseph and Benito, Jr., and sister Jocelyn.


Tickets for the DYW program 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 6:30 p.m.

For more information, contact Chair Nancy Lilly at 209-607-7605.

For more information about Soroptimist International of Oakdale, contact Lilly or visit and the Oakdale Soroptimist Facebook page.