Woodstock Academy senior named state's 'Distinguished Young Woman of the Year'

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Woodstock - posted Mon., Apr. 11, 2011
Woodstock Academy senior Valerie Voccio was recently named Connecticut’s Distinguished Young Woman of the Year. Courtesy photo. - Contributed Photo

Woodstock Academy senior Valerie Voccio has been named Connecticut's Distinguished Young Woman of the Year for 2011. Her selection into the scholarship program assures her entry into the national competition in Mobile, Ala., in June.

Formerly called America’s Junior Miss, the Distinguished Young Women of the Year program holds contests in all 50 states. State winners compete for cash scholarships and college-granted scholarships from nearly 200 colleges and universities.

Voccio's cousin, Andrea Voccio, who was in the contest years ago, mentored Valerie in this year's contest.

“The entire day we were rehearsing, she was sending me cell phone videos,” said Voccio. “She’s nine months pregnant and she was doing pushups on the ground. ‘You have to bend like this,’ she was telling me. She sent me video after video. She was just hysterical.”

Voccio won in several categories: fitness, talent, self-expression and spirit.

All contestants had to perform a group and individual fitness routine and demonstrate a talent.

One of Voccio’s talents is singing. She has been a member of The Hill Singers - Woodstock Academy's a cappella performance group - for four years. The group performs throughout the school year at Woodstock Academy events. They have also performed at nursing homes during the holiday season, at Sturbridge Village, and on several area radio shows.

She keeps herself busy these days with school work, a part-time job at the Trink-et Shoppe in Killingly, and working with her voice coach and on her fitness routine. She will also put on a “Be Your Best Self” presentation at an after-school program at a Boys & Girls Club. Voccio volunteers at Day Kimball Hospital in her spare time.

Winning the award has not been without some frustration. When she told her father that she hated playing tennis in gym class, he stopped her. “That's not how a distinguished young woman talks,” he said. And when she missed her school bus one morning, he reminded her that as the Distinguished Young Woman of Connecticut, she couldn't afford to miss the bus. “You have to be responsible now,” he said.

“Now that I have this title, I have to live up to it,” Voccio said with a laugh.

Voccio has been accepted at St. Joseph College in West Hartford, where she plans to study pediatric oncology nursing.

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