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FishHawk Teen to Compete in Distinguished Young Women Competition

Mahaillie Griffith will compete for the state title in January.

A FishHawk Ranch teen hopes to compete in a national competition that will net the winner a $40,000 scholarship

Mahaillie Griffith, a senior at the Blake Magnet High School for the Performing Arts in Tampa, was named the Distinguished Young Woman of Hillsborough County, qualifying her to compete in the Florida scholarship competition in January.

Seventeen-year-old Mahaillie Griffith is one of 17 girls to move on to the state Distinguished Young Women competition where the winner will receive a $5,000 scholarship. The state winner then will move on to national competition in Alabama for a chance to win a $40,000 scholarship prize.

Griffith's mother, Core Boode Griffith, said that scholarship money will come in handy. Mahaillie Griffith wants to attend the American Music Hall and Dramatics Academy in New York City when she graduates next year.

Griffith has been involved in musical theater since she was 3 years old. She was involved in the Florida Academy of Performing Arts at Music Showcase and, over the summer, served as a volunteer stage manager for the Theatre Arts and Dance Alliance in FishHawk Ranch.

"Musical theater is her life," said her mother. "It's all she's ever wanted to do."

These days the teen keeps busy in productions at Blake Magnet High School, which stages four to six shows each year, while maintaining a 4.8 grade point average.

As part of the state Distinguished Young Women competition in January, each girl is required to supply a gift basket filled with locally made items and gift certificates for a fundraising raffle. Griffith is currently collecting items to fill her basket. Anyone who wishes to contribute should contact Griffith at lovepageants@yahoo.com.

Founded in 1958 in Mobile, Ala., Distinguished Young Women is the largest and oldest national scholarship program for high school girls. It has provided more than $93 million in cash scholarships at the local, state and national levels.

In addition to cash scholarships, Distinguished Young Women participants are eligible for college-granted scholarships from almost 200 colleges and universities. More than $108 million in college scholarship opportunities were provided last year, some of which included full tuition, room and board to first-class institutions.

Participants in the Distinguished Young Women program are scored based on scholastics, an interview, talent, fitness and self-expression.

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