She didn’t move on to the nationals, but Savannah Renberg was among 14 young women from across the state vying for that chance.
Renberg, a senior at Wesley Chapel High School, was one of 16 Distinguished Young Women in Florida selected to compete earlier this month in Winter Garden.
Distinguished Young Women is a national scholarship program in which high school seniors from across the country compete for scholarships. The competition requires contestants to interview effectively, demonstrate physical fitness, and perform on stage.
The young women first compete in local events to advance to the state competition, and then on to the national level.
While 16 qualified for the state contest, it turns out only 14 — including Renberg — made the trip to Winter Garden.
Renberg, who is a member of Suncoast Dance Theatre in Lutz and has been dancing since she was 1, showcased her dancing skills in the competition. While the 18-year-old wasn’t one of the top finishers, Renberg said she’s glad she took part.
“It was just a very unique experience,” said Renberg, who is the senior class president at her school. “Every day we would have rehearsal. I kept forgetting that there was a contest, that there was going to be a winner at the end because it just felt like, to me, like a performance.”
She also enjoyed meeting young women from across the state, and they became fast friends.
“There weren’t any cliques or anything. We all have the same desires,” Renberg said. The Distinguished Young Women requires its participants to be academically focused.
For her part, Renberg has a 3.9 unweighted GPA on a 4.0 scale, and a 4.4 weighted GPA when college-level coursework is considered.
Renberg became aware of the program through a friend and decided to give it a shot. While she knows she eventually wants to be a college professor teaching literature classes, she’s not sure what college she’ll attend. So far, she’s been accepted to the University of North Florida and Winthrop University in South Carolina.
“I’m waiting for my acceptance to Troy University,” Renberg said about the college in Alabama. She wants to go there because it has a dance program, and she’d like to minor in dance.
Renberg credits her mom, Sharon Renberg — a first-grade teacher at Chester Taylor Elementary School outside of Zephyrhills — for helping to develop a love for teaching and learning. After volunteering in her mom’s class, Renberg said she thinks she would be suited for teaching older students.
She’s attracted to the university level because that would enable her to teach and to continue pursuing her love for learning at the same time.
The Winter Garden contest was friendly, Renberg said, and when it was over, the competitors planned to stay in touch.
“We all were swapping numbers and Instagrams and Twitters,” she said.
They’ve even talked of going on a road trip together to cheer on the young women who will represent Florida at the 57th Annual Distinguished Young Women National Finals this summer in Mobile, Ala.
The young women there will compete for more than $130,000 in cash scholarships.
Renberg hopes the Florida contestants make the trip to Mobile.
“I think it would be fun,” Renberg said.
Published Feb. 5, 2014