DYW is 'amazing' experience for McMahan

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Local teen competes, places in Top 10 at state Distinguished Young Woman competition

By Calen McKinney



Amazing and overwhelming.

That's how Katelyn McMahan describes her experience at the state Distinguished Young Women program.

"It was amazing," she said. "I made some wonderful friends."

Though she didn't take home the state title, McMahan was chosen as a Top 10 finalist and participated in the final competition on Saturday.

McMahan, who was named Taylor County's Distinguished Young Woman for 2014 in September, was one of 33 DYW winners who competed in the state DYW program at the Singletary Center for the Arts on the University of Kentucky campus. Chaney Rose of Warren County was named Kentucky's Distinguished Young Woman for 2014.

McMahan said before she left for Lexington that she has spent many hours preparing for the state program, especially during the week before the competition.

"Live, sleep, breathe Junior Miss," she said. "I have practiced and practiced and practiced."

On Tuesday, McMahan said she is pleased with her performance at the state program and she believes all her hard work paid off in the end.

"I was so pleased with it," she said.

McMahan said she was told by several mentors that she would make lifelong friends at the program, and that has proven to be true.

"They were really supportive," she said. "I'm still in contact with all of them."

McMahan stayed with host family Pete and Yvonne Gibson in Versailles last week and received many cards and letters of support during her stay.

"I was overwhelmed by support," she said.

And McMahan needed support last week. She was told after a rehearsal last week that her grandmother, Ruth McMahan, had died on Wednesday. Though DYW participants were limited in how much they could talk with their family members while preparing for the state program, McMahan talked to her grandfather, Thomas R. McMahan, on the phone after she learned of her grandmother's death.

"He gave me a pep talk," she said. "He said, 'Gram's gonna be there in spirit.'"

Before she headed to state, McMahan said she felt prepared for the program, but also had an excited but nervous feeling about it.

"Regardless of the outcome," she said. "It's really irrelevant at this point."

McMahan said she expected that the most important part of the program would be meeting new people and creating memories that will last a lifetime. On Tuesday, she said she was right. And she encourages other high school girls to compete in the Taylor County DYW program this summer so they can do the same.

"I learned so much," she said. "I've made lots of memories."

McMahan, who will attend Transylvania University in the fall, is involved with Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Beta Club and National Honor Society and is a Kentucky Music Teachers Association participant.

Her career goal is to be a journalist or work in broadcasting.