A family plot of land, a dirt road, and a daily Conway commute spotlighted the life of one wonderful young woman. Kristen Wroten, named the 2014 Distinguished Young Woman of Arkansas, never dreamed she would receive this honor.
Kristen grew up in Conway, although her address read "Bigelow."
"My mother was an elementary school teacher in Conway. The Conway School district allowed my brother and I to go to school in Conway," said Wroten.
Facing several changes in the family life growing up, including her mother moving districts, Wroten had to make the decision to separate from the family or enter the Bigelow school district.
"Rather than losing all of my friends and dropping out of the activities in which I was involved, I moved in with my "Grandmomma," said Wroten.
Since graduation she has moved back into her original home in Bigelow.
According to the Distinguished Young Woman of Arkansas site, it is "a national scholarship program that promotes and rewards scholarship, leadership, and talent in young women."
Wroten is a woman of perseverance.
"I have dyslexic tendencies, but I never used it as a crutch, if anything it inspired me to work harder," said Wroten.
Wroten explained that many compare the DYW as a pageant of sorts, but she was quick to correct this.
"First of all, DYW puts a lot of emphasis on scholastics, physical fitness, and nothing is based on appearance," said Wroten.
As Wroten continued to explain the pageant she confided that she was honored to be named Distinguished Young Women of Arkansas.
"I don’t know that I would call myself ‘distinguished.’ To me, the program is distinguished and when I won, the title was given to me. The program is amazing," said Wroten, "It’s about what’s on the inside (interview shows this) and what you’ve done for others (community involvement)."
Wroten has been highly involved in multiple sectors of the community.
"I started a childhood literacy initiative called, "A Storybook Childhood," I was the Vice President of the Future Educator’s Association in high school, as well as being on the Conway High School Color Guard every year," said Wroten," I’m most proud of my color guard achievements. Not only was I on one of the very best color guards in the entire state, I’ve been honored in receiving a spot on the University of Arkansas’ Razorback marching band color guard."
Wroten is unsure of the future in terms of career.
"My career path is kind-of up in the air at the moment. Elementary school teacher, wedding planner, small business owner, who knows," said Wroten.
A DYW does not simply appear, she comes from a family and the values that were taught to her. From these lessons, Wroten has named her mother as her role model.
"My mom was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis with Interstitial Lung Disease. Most people given this diagnosis combination are given three years. It’s been a year, and my mom’s lungs are holding steady," said Wroten.
She explains that while her health is so-so, her mother’s attitude is what amazes Wroten.
"She’s always trying to help others, make them happy, and make them successful," said Wroten, "I strive to be more like her every day."
Although Wroten comes from a small town and admits the thought of changing the world is scary, she explained, "I relish at the idea of improved childhood literacy. It breaks my heart to know that there are still so many children in America that don’t read on the standard reading level or even worse, can’t read at all," said Wroten.
Wroten’s drive is unending and she aspires to continue her work in her local community. She truly is a Distinguished Young Woman.