Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey shared inspiring words to those competing Friday in the 61st Distinguished Young Women National Finals in Mobile.
Ivey delivered the keynote address during the Mayor’s Leadership Breakfast, one of several activities the high school girls attended during the two weeks of DYW events.
The governor encouraged the young women to “Be engaged. Be a part of the world wherever you are, and strive to make it better.”
Ivey was a Junior Miss in 1963, representing Wilcox County. Junior Miss changed its name to Distinguished Young Women in 2010.
“I am honored to be here this morning to speak to you as governor of Alabama and as a has-been,” Ivey said.
She said she learned from her experience more than 50 years ago.
“This program showed me that even I, a young lady growing up in a small town in rural Alabama, could have a future that knew no boundaries,” she said. “The Distinguished Young Women’s program indeed has a legacy and that legacy challenges young women to be their best selves, to pursue lofty goals, to be a leader, and to make a real impact in this world, wherever you are.”
Ivey encouraged the young women to continue to strive to serve, quoting from Isaiah, the Jewish prophet, about his willingness to serve God.
“No one has ever made a difference without first deciding they were willing to be the difference,” she said. “Here am I, Lord, send me.”
Ivey also shared her thoughts on leadership.
“No one is really a leader until someone wants to follow them, and to have people follow, you must first show that you’re trying to do good,” she said. “If you remember anything from today, remember this: leadership is not defined by what we know, but rather by what we’re willing to do with what we know.”
After her address, Distinguished Young Women recognized Ivey as an honorary member of the organization.
The DYW National Finals continue through Saturday when this year’s winner will be announced. The representatives from every state have visited sites across the city, volunteered with local organizations and even participated in oyster-eating and rib-eating contests.
Learn more about Distinguished Young Women at http://distinguishedyw.org/.
You can watch all of the remarks at the Mayor’s Leadership Breakfast below.