Scholarship Signing Held for DYW Students


Posted on November 2, 2015 by Joy Washington
Joy Washington


Distinguished Young Women display their University of South Alabama caps while holding up Jaguar T-shirts following a scholarship signing ceremony. They are, from left, Jamie Morelan, Caitlyn Penter, Cassidy Dangler, Kelly Welsh, Tara Principe, Nicole Lusk and Maire Nakada. data-lightbox='featured'
Distinguished Young Women display their University of South Alabama caps while holding up Jaguar T-shirts following a scholarship signing ceremony. They are, from left, Jamie Morelan, Caitlyn Penter, Cassidy Dangler, Kelly Welsh, Tara Principe, Nicole Lusk and Maire Nakada.

Among the more than 16,000 students at the University of South Alabama this fall are the national winner of the 2015 Distinguished Young Woman of America event along with six state winners of the DYW scholarship program, and a 2014 DYW state winner.  All the DYW students were recognized Sunday during an academic scholarship signing ceremony and reception at the President’s House near the USA campus.   

Incoming Distinguished Young Women 2015 class members who are individual state winners are Maire Nakada, Tara Principe, Caitlyn Penter, Jamie Nicole Morelan, Nicole Lusk and Kelly Welsh. Nakada, of Alaska, was named the 2015 Distinguished Young Woman of America, and she is the first national DYW overall national winner to enroll at USA. The 2014 state DYW winner recognized was Cassidy Dangler.           

"We are honored these women, who are accomplished academically and are leaders among their peers, chose the University of South Alabama,” said President Tony Waldrop. “Their selection of South is another indication of our University's increasing national profile. We look forward to having them on campus, challenging them and offering them opportunities to excel and succeed."

According to Christopher Lynch, executive director for enrollment services, the University’s fall 2015 freshman class set many records. More than 2,100 new freshmen have been welcomed to campus, and he’s thrilled to have a record setting number of Distinguished Young Women join the class.

“Six new Distinguished Young Women signed with USA this year,” Lynch said. “This doubled our previous record of three. This was highlighted by the national overall winner of the Distinguished Young Women scholarship program, Maire Nakada from Alaska. These are confident young ladies who have proven to be leaders at USA, in Mobile and in their hometown communities.” 

The DYW scholarship program values its partnership with USA.

“Among the six members of the Class of 2015 who are accepting scholarships to USA is our national representative, the Distinguished Young Woman of America for 2015,” said Pam Patterson, executive director of Distinguished Young Women. “Never before has this occurred, and we are pleased that she chose to attend one of the finest universities in the country. We are excited about the future of these young women. We have no doubt they will continue to bring honor and distinction to the University of South Alabama, just as their predecessors have done.”

 USA’s 2015 class of Distinguished Young Women:

  • Tara Principe, 18, Providence, RI., is a psychology major. She is a member of Alpha Omicron Pi and she is the Distinguished Young Woman of Rhode Island.
  • Caitlyn Penter, 18, Myrtle Beach, S.C., is a communication major. She is a member of Kappa Delta Sorority, The Prowl Radio Station staff and the First Year Council. She is a National Merit Commended Scholar, PLAN Scholar, AP Scholar with Distinction and Beach Ball Classic Scholar. She is the Distinguished Young Woman of South Carolina.
  • Jamie Morelan, 18, Racine, Wis., is a communication major. She is a member of the Sustainability Club, Vanguard, USA Honors Program and the Latin American Student Association. She is the Distinguished Young Woman of Wisconsin. Morelan earned the Full International Baccalaureate Diploma, and she is the recipient of a number of outstanding student and leadership awards.
  • Nicole Lusk, 17, La Plata, Md., is a nursing major. She is a member of the Phi Mu Honor Society and USA Honors Program. She also has a role in the USA department of theatre and dance's production of “Boy Gets Girl.” She is the Distinguished Young Woman of Maryland.
  • Kelly Welsh, 18,  Jonesboro, Ark., is a mathematics and statistics major. She is in the USA Honors Program, and she received the Whiddon scholarship. Kelly is also a member of Reformed University Fellowship, RUF. She is the Distinguished Young Woman of Arkansas.
  • Maire Nakada, 18, Anchorage, Alaska, is a nursing major on the pre-med track. While in high school, she moved to Dublin, Ireland, to study abroad to pursue her passion for competitive Irish dancing. She has been named top 40 in the world and top 10 in North America for Irish dancing. Because of her Irish dancing, she has traveled the world and appeared on international television to showcase her skill. As the Distinguished Young Woman of America, she also won more than $60,000 in cash scholarships and a gold medallion.

USA’s 2014 class member of Distinguished Young Women:

  • Cassidy Dangler, 19, Waterville, Maine, is a theatre major. She is a member of Alpha Psi Omega Jesters, Chi Omega, Phi Eta Sigma and SouthFit. She was also named the Best Newcomer-Theatre USA 2014/2015, and she participated as a professional actor at Peach State Summer Theatre 2015. She is the Distinguished Young Woman of Maine.

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