Harland wins scholarship at national competition

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New Mexico Distinguished Young Woman 2012, Sierra Harland, a Los Lunas High School valedictorian, won a $1,000 scholarship in the scholastic division at the national level during the 55th Distinguished Young Women National last month.

Submitted photo: New Mexico Distinguished Young Woman Sierra Harland played the piano in the talent portion of the 55th Distinguished Young Women National final competition in Mobile, Ala., on June 30. She won a scholarship in the scholastic category, and also won an essay contest from the local newspaper, the Press-Register.

New Mexico Distinguished Young Woman 2012, Sierra Harland, a Los Lunas High School valedictorian, won a $1,000 scholarship in the scholastic division at the national level during the 55th Distinguished Young Women National last month.

“When I was announced as the top four for scholastics, I was ecstatic,” Harland said. “People kept congratulating me afterwards, and I told everyone that it was the result of four years of hard work.”

Her mother, Yuka Ikebuchi, was told that this year, 50 percent of participants scored above 30 on their ACTs and 75 percent of the contestants had a grade point average above 4.0.

“She had to extend herself and did all kinds of things which were out of her comfort zone,” Ikebuchi said.

“I can’t believe that I was in the top four in any category on the national level,” Harland exclaimed. “Many of these girls are going to great colleges, and I’m proud to be among them.”

She did her best to make everyone proud, she said.

She also won an essay contest sponsored by a Mobile newspaper, the Press-Register, which published Harland’s essay.

“I was really happy to see that my article was chosen for the Mobile newspaper,” Harland said. “I poured my thoughts into it, and it was a great way to reflect on the week’s events and the people I met during that time. I think it’s one of my best essays because it’s so genuine.”

During the event, Harland met many wonderful people and had some meaningful and touching experiences with community groups, her mother said.

Harland bonded with the host family, and hopes to visit them again one day. But as good a time as she had, she is very glad to be back home with friends and to be able to take it easy for a little while before beginning the rigors of her college career.

“I loved that I was able to share my knowledge about New Mexico to all the other girls and everyone I met in Mobile,” she said. “It was truly a great experience.”


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.