The annual Distinguished Young Women of Oakdale program will be held on Saturday, March 10 at 7 p.m. at Magnolia School Auditorium. Soroptimist International of Oakdale has sponsored the program for the past 30 years. Oakdale High School senior Gabrielle Ceja currently holds the title of Oakdale’s Distinguished Young Woman.
Oakdale’s program features 12 participants from the Class of 2019. They are: Danni Bench, Grace Buzzini, Alexandra Casillas, Adrienne Ferreira, Chloe Liekhus, Bethany Metcalfe, Misha Mistry, Erika Nichols, Jean Pagaduan, Bianca Sams, Natalie Williams, and Shannen Yang. They 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. The candidate selected as Oakdale’s Distinguished Young Woman will go on to compete at California’s Distinguished Young Women program this summer.
This week, we profile six of the participants: Danni Bench, Grace Buzzini, Alexandra Casillas, Adrienne Ferreira, Chloe Liekhus and Bethany Metcalfe.
Following graduation from Oakdale High School, Danni plans on attending college and majoring in English studies. Danni is active in sports at Oakdale High School participating in swimming and water polo. She earned the Offensive Player of the Year Award for her contributions to the OHS Water Polo Team. Danni enjoys participating in church activities including Vacation Bible School and its drive-through live nativity scene. Her interests include reading, writing, and public speaking. Danni’s proud supporters include her grandmother Sandy Conforti and sister Taylor.
With interests in musical, dramatic, and comedic theatre, following graduation from Oakdale High School, Grace is looking to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts to study professional theatre. At OHS, Grace is a member of the Show Choir. She takes piano and voice lessons, participating in recitals for both. Grace has received the Certificate of Merit Piano Level 4 Award, first place in the Manteca Crossroads Grace Talent Show, and Best Actress in a Musical Award. In her spare time, Grace teaches piano and vocal lessons, helps feed the hungry with her church youth group, sings in hospitals with the OHS choir, and babysits. Other interests include photography, creative writing, and playing the ukulele. Always in the audience cheering her on are her parents Jonelle and Brian Buzzini and sister Sophie.
With a passion for helping people, Alexandra plans to attend college and study to become a pediatrician or teacher following graduation from Oakdale High School. At OHS, Alexandra has been recognized for her academic achievements receiving honor roll and California Scholarship Federation status. In addition, Alexandra is a member of the Interact Club and participates on the soccer team where she has received two coaches’ awards. Outside of school, Alexandra volunteers for the 605 Citizenship Project helping adults study for their citizenship tests. She also helps adults learn basic English. For her service, Alexandra was honored with a 605 Citizenship Certificate. Alexandra is active in her church and enjoys running, speech, getting to know people, learning new things, listening to music, and spending time with her family and friends. Alexandra’s proud supporters are parents Oscar and Julieta Casillas, brother Oscar, and sister Zaira.
Adrienne is involved in many school activities at Oakdale High School, serving as an English Literacy Tutor and participating on the water polo and swim teams. In addition, Adrienne is active in on-campus clubs such as the Pre-Med Club and Interact Club. She has received Coaches’ Awards and Most Valuable Player Awards for her efforts on the Frosh/Soph water polo team. Adrienne has also been recognized as Jostens’ Student of the Month and received Doing High School Right awards for the past three years. Adrienne has volunteered in the community at the Harvest Festival, Junior High “Round Up”, and water polo tournaments. She enjoys reading, English and Western riding, swimming, running, and babies and children. After graduation, Adrienne plans to attend college and study nursing. Encouraging Adrienne every step of the way are parents David and Kristine Ferreira and brother Gage.
Following graduation from Oakdale High School, Chloe plans to attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and study Interior Architecture and Design. At OHS, Chloe participates on the golf and track teams as well as in Leadership, Link Crew, Service Club, Interact Club, and the Health and Wellness Club where she serves as Vice President. Chloe has earned her Academic Block O, received recognition as an outstanding freshman and sophomore, and received a Creativity Award in her Leadership class. She also received her Varsity Block O for sports, participated on the OHS VOL Champion Golf Team and was selected as an OHS Masters player. Outside of school, Chloe volunteers for church and community projects. Her interests include travel and experiencing new places and foods, arts and crafts, board games and puzzles, physical activities, and spending time with family and friends. Cheering Chloe on are her parents Andrew and Jennifer Liekhus, brothers Cole and Cullen, and sister Charlotte.
Bethany is a member of the Varsity Water Polo and Swim Teams at Oakdale High School. She has earned both First Team and Second Team All-Valley Oak League recognition for her efforts on the water polo team. In addition to swimming and water polo at OHS, Bethany plays on a club water polo team. She also enjoys snowboarding and wakeboarding. Bethany’s community service activities include feeding the homeless and operating the scoreboard at water polo tournaments. In her free time, Bethany enjoys photography and working on old VW cars. Following graduation from OHS, Bethany plans to attend UC Davis and study for a career as a sports physical therapist. Encouraging Bethany in all of her endeavors are parents Elliott and Charlotte Metcalfe and brothers Peter and Jackson.
Founded in 1958 in Mobile, Alabama, Distinguished Young Women is the largest and oldest national scholarship program for high school girls. During its 60 years of operation, the program has provided life-changing experiences for more than 750,000 young women. Last year, Distinguished Young Women provided almost $1.5 billion in cash and college scholarship opportunities to program participants at the local, state and national level.
Look for profiles of the remaining six participants – Misha Mistry, Erika Nichols, Jean Pagaduan, Bianca Sams, Natalie Williams, and Shannen Yang – in the Wednesday, March 7 issue of The Leader