“I think [it is] absolutely thrilling to see her be able to succeed with this and to just take part in such a wonderful program, because the Distinguished Young Women program is just a remarkable scholarship program for young women,” said Brown, a resident of White. “The excitement that I was feeling along with her, our entire family, all her friends, it was just an overwhelming amount of joy. Then for her to go on and to repeat that success at the state level was even more amazing for all of us. I came unglued. I wouldn’t miss that for anything. ... One thing that I learned early in parenting was some advice that a wise, elderly lady gave to me right after [my son] Justin was born.
“She said, ‘Always treat your children like the blessing they are and not the burden they may become.’ As you go through life, you have struggles as a parent. You don’t know for sure what to do or not to do but if you seek God’s will and you keep that in mind to kind of lean toward that unconditional love — which my wife is much better at than I am — I think all in all then it makes the successes like we’re seeing in Avian right now so much more enjoyable and amazing. And you appreciate those things so much more.”
For Brown, who also has two sons — Justin, 25, and Ryan, 21 — with his wife, Linda, fatherhood is a “lifetime calling.”
“Being a father is something that just develops over time,” Brown said. “It’s kind of like a calling. You feel led to it but you have no idea what you’re doing to start with. So you feel your way around and you hope that you’re doing it in a godly way and a way that will benefit your children. And as you get through the process, you can see that it’s full of mistakes and successes and many other aspects that are challenging and rewarding.
“It’s really a lifetime calling to me to be a father. It starts when your kids are born and you feel that connection, that relationship between a parent and a child that really is like no other relationship, that really tugs at your heart and your soul. ... It’s interesting. As many parents, we discover early on how different our children are and how special each one is in their own unique way. ... In my case, I’ve seen for example, my oldest son, Justin, he has a tremendous work ethic. That’s a characteristic of him that has just served him so well and made him successful in the things that he’s tried to do. My middle child has a huge heart for people and he cares for people. And Avian has just a tremendous ability to seek God’s guidance in her life and make a difference in people around her and be a positive influence in people. And those gifts that start coming out, you just celebrate those.”
Departing for Alabama on Father’s Day, Avian Brown is excited and grateful for the overwhelming support displayed by her father, family and overall community.
“My dad is someone that I’ve always looked up to because of how much he’s been able to do in his life,” she said. “I would describe him as very intelligent, first of all, and also just very willing [to help] and caring. ... That’s been very beneficial to me because of how supportive [he] and my mom have both been when I decided to take on this Distinguished Young Woman [competition].
“He’s just been very supportive, especially with helping me understand current events, talking about interviews. He’s always been very passionate about wanting to help me with talent and wanting to critique stuff that maybe I do wrong on [my] fitness [routine]. He’s very good at pointing things out and being able to figure out ways to help me overcome different struggles. So it’s been very nice to have him here to help.”
As the 56th annual America’s Distinguished Young Women National Finals nears, Avian Brown is looking to conquer new territory. If she were to win, the recent North Cobb Christian School graduate — who is the fifth Bartow County representative to claim the state title — would be the first local participant to receive the national medallion. To date, she has garnered $8,000 in cash scholarships though the program’s local and state contests.
“I have been preparing and I’m very, very excited,” she said. “I am going to be rooming with two awesome girls, one from Kentucky and one from Idaho. I’m very much looking foward to being able to be with a new set of people that are going to be really interesting to learn about and get to know and have fun with. I’m also just excited to represent Bartow County and Georgia because that’s an honor for me.
“This community has really been incredible in my growth process in Distinguished Young Women, the way I’ve been able to work with people in our community on mock interview panels or people that want to critique my fitness routine. The whole community has really been helpful for me in preparing [to go] to nationals, and I couldn’t be more honored to represent a better community.”
After nearly two weeks of activities related to the Distinguished Young Women program, the competition at the Mobile Civic Center Theater will evaluate the 50 contestants in the areas of fitness (15 percent of overall score), interview (25 percent), scholastics (20 percent), self-expression (15 percent) and talent (25 percent). For the talent category, she will perform the classical concerto “Csardas” on the violin before transitioning into the rousing country music ballad “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” Formerly known as America’s Junior Miss scholarship program, America’s DYW will disperse more than $100,000 in cash scholarships at the national contest.
“It’s for sure been a transformational program for me. I was actually very, very bad at interviewing when I came through the local program. So [from] last year’s local to state, I had to do so much work on interviewing,” Avian Brown said, adding she sharpened her skills through working with mock interview panels and interview coach Alan Sanders of AJS Productions. “I actually ended up winning an interview award at state and honestly I can say without a shadow of a doubt if I had just won that interview award, it would have been so worth it.
“I would have been the most ecstatic person in the room because just to see that change and be able to see it in myself was something that I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else. And just the fact that I was able to build more self-confidence and learn how to perform and learn how to work hard at something, that’s been really cool for me and something that I always will cherish. It will take me throughout the rest of my life, and I’m really grateful for that.”
After concluding her experience with the Distinguished Young Women program, she will attend Auburn University in the fall, majoring in international business.
A 2013 graduate of North Cobb Christian School in Kennesaw, she maintained a 4.303 GPA while being involved in numerous activities. Some of her past achievements included: student government vice president for the ninth and 12th grades; 2012 Georgia Certificate of Merit Award; 2012 Director’s Award for school orchestra, 11th grade; and Scholar Athlete Award for the ninth, 10th and 11th grades. She also has been involved in the Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra, North Cobb Christian Concert Orchestra, Tabernacle Baptist Church’s orchestra, Beta Club, Tri-M Music Society, National Honor Society, French Honor Society, varsity cross country team, varsity soccer team and Tabernacle Baptist Church’s youth group.
For more information about America’s Distinguished Young Women and obtaining tickets to the finals, visit www.distinguishedyw.org.