DYW brings young talent to the spotlight


Connor Dunn

Kumer walks to accept her title of the 2015 Distinguished Young Woman of Brookfield. (From left to right: Allison Hartwig, Cassie Jehly, Emma Kumer, and Sam Ramney.)

The Distinguished Young Women of Brookfield and Elm Grove gained two new representatives Saturday, Jan. 19 at Wisconsin Hills Middle School. Emma Kumer (‘16) of Brookfield Central and Amanda Bray of Brookfield Academy became the 2016 Distinguished Young Women of Brookfield and Elm Grove. The program, formerly known as Junior Miss, is for high school juniors.
The program also said goodbye to DYW Olivia Walleser (‘15) and Kate Watry, who now enter the select group of “has beens.”
In her farewell address, Watry said, “They are not picking a Distinguished Young Woman tonight out of many representatives, but instead they are picking a representative out of a group of Distinguished Young Women.” This notion summarized Emma Kumer’s experience with DYW.
“I think every single girl that competed has the qualities that it takes to be a respected and confident leader. Through practicing for the program, we learned more about ourselves and I noticed a lot of girls finding pride and power,” Kumer said. “Any single one of us could have won.”
Brookfield Central had 13 participants in this year’s program: Robyn Thompson, Amber Soik, Sarah Brown, Lucy Kwiatkowski, Natalie Alteri, Michaela Evanich, Sam Ranney, Lia Iyengar, Emma Kumer, Cassie Jehly, Allison Hartwig, Natalie Hartwig, and Ashley Elbert.
During the competition, each participant was evaluated on their interview, fitness, talent, scholastics, and self-expression.
“The most challenging part of the competition for me was fitness,” said Kumer. “I’ve never taken dance in my life — except for a brief three month period when I was two — and picking up the choreography, as simple as it was, took me forever.”
During her fitness routine, Kumer accidentally stepped on Cassie Jehly’s foot, but kept smiling. Later in the night she regained the stage and presented her talent: standup comedy.
When asked how she decided on such a unique talent, Kumer said, “I knew from the first day that I could not sing or dance as my talent, and since I have never gone through a music program, I knew instruments were out of the question. The only thing left for me was my voice and my sense of humor, so I decided I had to write a comedy piece.”
Kumer, with the help of DYW advisor Mrs. Ellen Linnihan, decided to do a comedy piece that displayed both her cultured and humorous sides. The skit described her experience of moving from England to the U.S. in middle school and adjusting to the odd “middle schooler” ways.
Kumer received the alternate position while Natalie Hartwig won overall for talent. Furthermore, Michaela Evanich won overall fitness, Lia Iyengar won overall self-expression, Natalie Alteri won overall interview, and Sarah Brown won overall scholastics.
The entire 2016 DYW group had an average of a 29.11 on the ACT, a key factor in consideration for the scholastics award.
Ashley Elbert, Natalie Alteri, and Natalie Hartwig rounded out the competition as the first, second, and third alternates for the Distinguished Young Women of Brookfield.
To Kumer, her winning means more than the title. “I like to think that I was chosen because people thought I was unique and well-spoken, and that just means so much to me,” said Kumer.