Thursday marked the start of competition for Lizabeth Marquart, Washington, who is representing Missouri in the 55th Distinguished Young Women National finals in Mobile, Ala.

Marquart, along with 49 other state representatives, has been in Mobile, Ala., for the past two weeks participating in community activities and preparing for the national scholarship competition.

The program’s evaluation process includes scholastics (20 percent), interview (25 percent), fitness (15 percent), talent (25 percent) and self-expression (15 percent). Preliminary competition included the categories of self-expression, fitness and talent.

Marquart has completed an individual interview with a panel of five judges and her scholastic performance has been scored through an evaluation process of her high school academic record and standardized test scores.

On Saturday, June 30, 10 finalists will be selected from the group of 50 young women and will compete for the opportunity to represent the program as the Distinguished Young Woman of America for 2012. In addition, the newly selected national representative will receive a substantial cash scholarship and a gold medallion.

“The mission of Distinguished Young Women is to provide a life-enhancing experience for our participants that culminates in a celebratory showcase of their accomplishments,” said Becky Jo Peterson, executive director of Distinguished Young Women. “The on-stage categories of fitness, self-expression, and talent show that these young women have made a commitment to be healthy, that they are able to express their thoughts and opinions in a cogent and effective way, and that they have an appreciation for the arts that they demonstrate through a performing talent.”

For her talent presentation, Marquart will perform a tap dance to “I Can’t Dance” by Genesis.

To view the live webcast of the Distinguished Young Women National Finals, people can visit on Saturday, June 30, at 7 p.m. CST. To see photos of participants from their time in Mobile, visit

Founded in 1958 in Mobile, Ala., Distinguished Young Women is the largest and oldest national scholarship program for high school girls. During its 55 years of operation, the program has provided life-changing experiences for more than 700,000 young women. Last year, Distinguished Young Women provided more than $108 million 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.