Faith Davis

Faith Davis

S.C. Young Distinguished Woman

Aynor High School’s Outstanding Senior and 2017’s Conway Teen SuperStar has been busy for the past year turning her talent, fitness, scholastic ability and more into money to help pay for her studies.

So far, Faith Davis has received a full $32,000 a year Presidential Scholarship, plus a $5,000 stipend for room and board, to Anderson College where she plans to study financial analysis.

She also collected about $5,600 in scholarship money for her selection as South Carolina’s Distinguished Young Woman. This weekend she hopes to be awarded more money through the national Distinguished Young Women competition.

Davis’ supporters can view the 63rd Distinguished Young Women National Finals at DistingishedYW.org Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 8 p.m..

Due to coronavirus safety issues, this year’s competition is being held virtually, which Davis says is fine. It’s just not the same as getting to know other contestants and forming longtime relationships, the way she was able to do at the state level.

Davis says she was introduced to the pageant by her voice teacher, Miss Kathleen, who is a big supporter of the pageant that this year will offer a total of $125,000 in scholarship money.

Horryite Caitlyn Penter, a former state winner, used her money to attend the University of South Alabama.

The competition usually starts with a local pageant, but a lack of interest in Horry County has forced local contestants to work individually for a position in the state pageant.

In this situation, contestants work for a ranking high enough to be included on the state level.

Davis started working on the competition more than a year ago. That’s when she wasn’t studying for her senior year at AHS or working at Rivertown Pharmacy in Conway and cleaning offices, and, in her spare time, doing some tutoring.

“I don’t think that we should ever have to stop working hard,” she said.

Her favorite subject has always been math and that’s why she selected her college major. She wants to help people avoid getting into financial trouble. She thinks a lot of financial problems come from people’s bad choices.

The hardest part of the pageant process for Davis so far started at the first level with a fitness routine that includes pushups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, all worked into a dance routine. It is designed to test and improve a contestant’s cardio condition, balance and upper and lower body strength. She submitted her version of the routine on video. At the state level, she said, contestants learn more about the routine and work to perfect it.

“This was definitely one of my weak points so that was what I was most worried about. I have learned that I can actually do what I set my mind to…It definitely took more practice than the rest…,” she said.

In July of 2019, she competed in the state competition that included a full week of community service events.

“We got to do a lot of fun things and also a lot of practice for the competition that week in July,” she said, adding that she made lifelong friends there that she has been staying in contact with.

In a normal year, she would have gone to Alabama this month for two weeks for the national pageant, but not this year.

The pageant will use video taken of the contestants’ talent and fitness and Zoom for the self-expression and phone call segments of the pageant. Contestants are also judged on their scholastic records, which shouldn’t be a problem for Davis, who is president of the AHS Beta Club and has been named Student of the Year five times.

Tonight will be devoted to preliminary rounds. Eight finalists will be announced Saturday night and the finals will be Saturday.

“They’re going to try to make it as close to what an actual show would be like. It’s definitely unchartered territory. We’re all kind of going with the flow. I’m not exactly sure how everything is going to go…It’s really sad that the Class of 2020 missed out on the actual community experience” she said.

She and the other 49 contestants have been using group messaging and zoom meeting to build bonding, but she said, “…it’s not the same at all.”

For her talent, she and Miss Kathleen selected Over the Rainbow paying close attention to which arrangement is best for her.

Davis belongs to Advancing the Kingdom Church on S.C. 905, just outside of Conway, where her dad is the pastor, and she serves on the praise and worship and youth ministry teams.

Worship is so important to her that it greatly influenced her choice of Anderson University where, she says, she was impressed with the hospitality of the staff, the current students and the opportunities she’ll have there to be involved with campus ministry, adding that faith is a big part of her life.

She believes at Anderson she’ll be involved with people who are going to push her to be the best she can be, and then again, there’s the opportunity for worship.

Although she already has her four years of college paid, she keeps working her part-time jobs and pressing forward on the DYW pageant because she just wants to take as much of the financial burden of college off of her parents, Laura and Kenneth Davis.

Davis has an older half sister and a younger sister.

She had a brother, who was shot to death by a friend in a tragic shotgun accident when he was only 16-years-old.

“…and so he has been a huge part of my life and carrying on his legacy has been a huge part of my life. Faith…it’s truly been what’s carried me through and I don’t know what I would have done without it,” she said.

She says the contest has positively impacted many girls’ lives, and she believes that having gone as far as she has will help her succeed in life.

“I think that winning it is such an honor and carrying the title is such an honor. I’m hoping that in the future it will serve me well, and I know it will,” she said.

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I'm the editor of the Horry Independent, a weekly newspaper in Conway, South Carolina. I cover city hall and courts, among many other subjects. Know of a good story? Call me at 843-488-7241.

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