She will compete in June at nationals in Mobile, Alabama.
It was the moment Valerie Trapp and the 23 other girls had been waiting for — the announcement of who would be crowned the Distinguished Young Woman of Florida.
They had all arrived in Destin a week prior, but make no mistake, this wasn’t a vacation for these young ladies.
What followed their arrival was a boot camp of sorts that included numerous rehearsals, interviews and community service — all for the sake of sisterhood and for a shot at the big title.
Although many would have just been thinking of possibly winning the competition, Trapp simply reflected on the hours spent learning and spending time with all of her new friends.
“I was honestly just filled with gratitude,” said Trapp, a Winter Parker and senior at Trinity Prep. “I remember calling my mom the night before the actual competition, and I remember telling her how I just felt so lucky to have been able to go, and how I could not care less if I won, because I just felt like I made such amazing relationships.”
Before she even had time to finish her thoughts, colorful confetti came raining down as her name was called out — much to her surprise.
Winning the title of Distinguished Young Woman of Florida itself was a culmination of almost a year’s worth of hard work in the organization that serves as the largest and oldest national scholarship program for high-school girls. And the process all began thanks to a friend of hers at the Orlando Ballet School who had competed the prior year.
“I just thought it was such a fabulous opportunity that I had to try out,” Trapp said. “The process started over the summer. In late July, we had a local competition, so I prepared for that and that’s where I competed for Winter Park, and then from then on, I moved on to the state competition.”
Much like the competition in Destin, Trapp participated in five different categories — which included interviews, performances and other events — but the biggest difference was that it was only a one-day affair.
The performance aspect alone ended up being the most stressful for Trapp. She and the other 11 girls had to learn the routine earlier in the day before going on to perform it that afternoon.
Luckily for the 17-year old, her 12-year background as a dancer at the Orlando Ballet School and her love for the performance helped prepare her for just the occasion.
“I’ve been doing more theater this year, which has also been a really fun experience,” Trapp said. “I’m kind of branching out when it comes to dance and also involving some acting and singing — performing has definitely become one of my favorite experiences.”
Trapp said she does mostly school theater performances at Trinity Prep and that has led her to participating in a Shakespeare competition at the Lincoln Center in New York City this month.
Her talents don’t just stop with the arts — Trapp also has a particular knack for language.
“At home we speak four languages — English, German, Spanish, and French,” Trapp said. “My mom is Dominican, and my dad is German, and we lived in the Dominican Republic when I was younger, and we went to a French school in the Dominican Republic. My parents: They really tried to make sure that we got a global education.”
Between her intellect and abilities in and out of school, Trapp is currently in the middle of deciding on her schooling after she graduates from Trinity Prep. Right now, her top choices are Stanford, Harvard and Yale — though she said right now she was leaning toward heading out west to Palo Alto to study international relations.
But before any of that happens, Trapp still has one last stage to conquer in June as she looks to take home the title of Distinguished Young Woman at this year’s nationals in Mobile, Alabama.
Until then, Trapp said she will continue to work on the different categories to get ready for the competition, although she believes that ultimately meeting new friends will be the best part of the entire process.
“By the end of this, I’m going to have 51 sisters in every single state in the United States (including D.C.), as well as a bunch of amazing girls that I’ve met in Florida,” Trapp said. “I think that kind of network and that kind of community is pretty astounding — anywhere I go, I’ll know somebody.”