Ana Teresa Atiles, Distinguished Young Woman

Adrienne Blakey interviews Ana Teresa Atiles. Miss Blakey was the DYW of Payne County as well as Oklahoma the year before Miss Atiles.

photos provided by Ana Teresa Atiles and DYW

We recently had the chance to interview Ana Teresa Atiles, who served as the Distinguished Young Woman of Payne County for 2017. Ana Teresa participated in the State program and this summer she will compete at the National level of the Distinguished Young Women program representing the state of Oklahoma.  We wanted to learn more about Ana Teresa, her goals, and her service as Distinguished Young Woman.

SLM: Tell us about your background. What are your interests, goals, etc.?

Ana Teresa Atiles: I was born in Athens, GA. I have an older brother; he graduated last May from the US Naval Academy and is now training to become a pilot. My family and I moved to Stillwater in the summer of 2010. In middle school I focused in dance, something I had done since I was a preschooler in Georgia. I also did sports such as soccer and volleyball. However, once I started high school I began to get involved in other activities, such as student council and more soccer. Ultimately getting more involved and meeting certain people through clubs, led me to the Distinguished Young Women of Payne County, local program. Dance and soccer remain some of my main interests and hobbies.

Currently my goal is to decide where I am going to college, where I want to major in nursing. I want to become a labor and delivery nurse. While in college I hope to be involved on campus and hopefully complete at least one study abroad program. I am trying out for pom (dance team) at one of the universities I have been accepted to, so that may be something that takes up my time as well. I like nursing as a career because it allows me to fulfill my goal of traveling, since nurses are needed everywhere. I also am a people person and enjoy helping others.

SLM: What is DYW and its mission?

Ana Teresa Atiles: Distinguished Young Women formerly known as America’s Junior Miss, is the oldest scholarship program for high school girls in the U S. Their web site states its mission is to “inspires high school girls to develop their full, individual potential through a fun, transformative experience that culminates in a celebratory showcase of their accomplishments. Distinguished Young Women strives to give every young woman the opportunity to further her education and prepare for a successful future.”

SLM: What has your experience as the Distinguished Young Woman of Payne County been like? 

Ana Teresa Atiles: As DYW of Payne County 2017 I have received public speaking training, interview training, and have gained confidence in myself.  I spoke to many non-profit service organizations in Stillwater and surrounding towns. I appeared in parades, and was interviewed for radio and TV shows, and was able to give back to the community. I really enjoyed working with the DYW class of 2018 before handing down my title.

Miss Atiles passed the torch to the Distinguished Young Woman of Payne County 2018, Grace Hunziker on March 4, 2017 at the Stillwater Community Center.

SLM: Is there a new DYW of Payne County?

Ana Teresa Atiles: As of last March 4, there is a new DYW of Payne County 2018, her name is Grace Hunziker.

SLM: We understand that you are currently Oklahoma’s Distinguished Young Woman. How long will you serve in this capacity?

Ana Teresa Atiles: I was named Distinguished Young Woman of Oklahoma 2017 in July 2016. I will hand down that title at the state program this July.

SLM: Can you tell me about what it means to serve at the state level?

Ana Teresa Atiles: Serving at the state level means I implement a Be Your Best Self program for young children during the National Be Your Best Self Week (April 24-28, 2017). Local and State duties overlap, so I don’t do that much more strictly as the Distinguished Young Woman of Oklahoma. My main responsibility is to be an advocate for Distinguished Young Women. Present a positive role model, make appearances on behalf of the organization, and prepare for and represent well our state at the National Distinguished Young Women of American competition.

SLM: How are you preparing for the upcoming national competition?

Ana Teresa Atiles: In preparation for the National Distinguished Young Women of American competition, I am doing various things.

Photo by David Holbrook

Scholastics (25%)- I work hard at keeping up my grades as I know the scholastic portion of the competitions is very important.

Interview (25%)- I will be intently listening to the news to be prepared for the interviews. Two of the previous DYW of Oklahoma will be meeting with me to help me prepare for the interview portion of the competition. I look forward to hearing about their experiences and the types of questions they were asked.

Talent (20%)- I am practicing my talent – a dance routine, which I performed for the first time at the March 4 DYW of Payne County 2018 program. I am still taking ballet, jazz, and lyrical dance, which helps me stay in good “dance form.”

Fitness (15%)- Right now this is easy as I play soccer for Stillwater High School. Our coaches make us run every practice. Between soccer and dance I get plenty of exercise. I do need to do more push-ups watching my form. Once the semester is over, I will need to work out to stay in the best shape possible.

Self-Expression (15%)-  I chose to take a Speech communication course this semester not only because I was interested in the topic but also to improve my public speaking skills.

So far there isn’t too much to do to prepare, besides getting the proper wardrobe ready (dance attire, interview suit, self-expression dress). I will leave for the National competition on June 17 and I will be practicing for the final competition, doing community service and other activities that the national organization arranges for us. The finals are June 29, 30 and July 1st in Mobile, Alabama.

Ana Teresa Atiles and Adrienne Blakey. Miss Blakey was the DYW of Payne County as well as Oklahoma the year before Miss Atiles.

SLM: What would it mean to you to win? 

Ana Teresa Atiles: At the county level, you win a bronze medal and scholarship money. At the state level, you win a silver medal and more scholarship money.  To win at nationals, would be a true honor. I would win a gold medal and scholarships adding up to close to $50,000. I will do my best to represent the state. Oklahoma’s representative won the national title in 1968, so it has been a while.

SLM: How can the community support you?

Ana Teresa Atiles: I have felt very supported by the community already. For example, Bank SNB had all their signs congratulating me when I won DYW of Payne county and again wishing me good luck when I was going to compete at the state level. Many people are familiar with the program. I am constantly told “congratulations” and it means a lot. I hope people will keep me in their minds when June comes around- I will need all the positive thoughts that I can get to do my very best.

“Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?”

DYW Payne county is very active thanks to the direction of Richard Hawkins and the DYW of Payne County committee. The state committee does a great job as well. They are dedicated volunteers who do their best to support me. I would like to see more participants from all over the state. So if readers have amongst their friends and family high school juniors and seniors, I would hope they will forward the information about this wonderful program to them. Rising seniors need to register as soon as possible to compete in the Distinguished Young Women of Oklahoma program this July. More information can be found at

To all young ladies, a medal and a title does not make you “distinguished.” It is what you do every day that makes you “distinguished.”

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