Carroll muses on her DYW experience
Representing Kentucky at the Distinguished Young Women of America program allowed Lindsey Carroll to get to know 50 other accomplished young women from across the country. The 2016 Woodford County High School graduate says she grew as a person from the energy of the other young women during her 15-day experience in Mobile, Ala. Lindsey received scholarship awards for being a top-10 finalist at the DYW National Finals on June 23 to 25, but says being surrounded by such strong, well-rounded young women - all sharing similar goals and aspirations in life - was the highlight of her experience. She also appreciated having "great volunteering opportunities" during her two weeks in Alabama, including a chance to spend time with autistic students in a preschool classroom. "It was one of the most amazing experiences ever," says Lindsey, "because I had never really worked with kids with autism." She still cherishes her day spent hanging out with a young boy named Jonah. The journey to representing Woodford County in the Distinguished Young Women of Kentucky program and then being selected to represent her home state at the DYW of America National Finals in Alabama began with Lindsey's parents. Tim and Donna Carroll always made sure Lindsey - from a very young age - understood that school was a priority. Lindsey and her older sister, Alex, who are less than two years apart, have always been really close. So the older sister inspires her younger sibling to work hard in the classroom and on the dance floor. Jane's School of Dance in Versailles has also been a huge influence on Lindsey's life and her career aspiration to become a Broadway dancer. "It's given me so many skills that are the reason I am where I am," says Lindsey. Besides teaching her time-management skills and giving her "a huge work ethic," Jane's School of Dance has taught her self-discipline and how to work with others to achieve a goal. Perhaps most importantly, Lindsey credits her dance teacher, Megan (Schenck) Dragoo, for teaching her dance students to always respect their teacher. "She's taught us it's not okay to sass your teacher (who is) there to . grow you" as a person and a dancer. Lindsey says it's hard to explain in words what dance means to her. When she's dancing - in "a super-awesome class" or onstage for a performance - "everything feels right . this is what I'm meant to do." During the DYW of America National Finals, Lindsey did a tap dance (choreographed by Dragoo) to an instrumental version of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" - one of her dad's favorite songs. Finishing as a top-10 finalist and winning a scholastics award were huge accomplishments for Lindsey because of what she describes as a "strong group of girls" in the DYW National Finals. "I just felt very blessed to have stood out (as a top-10 finalist) among this amazing group of young women," says Lindsey, 18. During their two weeks together, Lindsey and the other Distinguished Young Women of America participants discovered much in common. They also discovered many differences - from the slang words they spoke to the food they ate. Lindsey was surprised that many of the other young ladies had never heard of grits. And her taste buds were delighted when she tasted a snowball - similar to a snow cone, but topped with sweetened condensed milk. Since returning home to Versailles last month, Lindsey had surgery on her ankle. A bone fragment was removed from her ankle joint to relieve pain experienced whenever she pointed her foot - a common position for dancers. She had been dealing with the pain, which got progressively worse in recent months, for the last five or six years. Lindsey will travel to southern California next month so she can begin another chapter in her life as a freshman student at Chapman University, where she will major in dance, with a second major in either biology or chemistry. She credits the scholarships awarded by the Distinguished Young Women programs for allowing her to continue her education at Chapman University. An education will give her options if a professional dance career doesn't happen or if she suffers an injury. "The plan right now is to dance and then do medicine," says Lindsey. She's leaning toward emergency room medicine, which is what her dad does. "I like the unpredictability about it," explains Lindsey. ".You have to think on your feet." For now, she'll continue using her feet to dance, which remains fresh and exciting to Lindsey because it's also not predictable. Looking to her future, Lindsey knows she may never attain her goal to become a professional Broadway dancer, but says she would only be "totally devastated if I had never at least gone for it." She wants to look back on life knowing she went after her dream - with no regrets.