Tomlin to compete for state DYW title

Published 1:50 pm Friday, January 19, 2024

By Haley Mitchell-Godwin

Luverne High School senior Ella-Kate Tomlin is set to showcase her talents and achievements in the Distinguished Young Woman of Alabama competiton, taking place at Frazer Church in Montgomery today and tomorrow. As the 2024 Distinguished Young Woman of Crenshaw County, Tomlin earned this prestigious opportunity through her outstanding accomplishments and performance in the county competition last July. 

A send-off celebration in Tomlin’s honor was hosted on Jan. 8 at the Crenshaw County Cultural Center in Luverne, with approximately 35  well-wishers in attendance. 

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“Thank you so much to everyone that attended my send-off celebration,” Tomlin said in a recent Facebook post. “I love you all so much, and I am so grateful for each and every one of you supporting me.”

Tomlin embarked on her journey to Montgomery on Sunday, joining 42 other participants in the program for a week of both fun and hard work. The DYW participants got in lots of practice learning the opening number, the fitness routine and the self-expression routine. Throughout the week, the girls have attended events at the Montgomery Kiwanis building, the Governor’s Mansion and the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association and were set to have lunch with Governor Kay Ivey, a 1963 Distinguished Young Women alumna.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the participants took a break from practice to engage in a day of service focused on childhood literacy. They prepared literacy kits with books that will be shared with children all across the state and were given words of encouragement from Senator Katie Britt.

The Daughter of Rusty Tomlin and Kelly Miley Downing, Ella-Kate earned the title of 2024 Distinguished Young Woman of Crenshaw County in July. Her victory came with a $1,500 scholarship for college and an additional $3,000 scholarship to Lurleen B. Wallace Community College. Now, she competes for the statewide title and additional scholarship money.

Tomlin’s mother shared that Ella-Kate’s biggest concern for the week was the lack of communication with the outside world. 

“She was worried about not having her phone, ” Downing said.  “but she was excited to spend the week in a bubble and just take everything in, and be in the moment with all new people. Ella-Kate really does amaze me. She loves helping people and I could not be more proud of her for being her true self 100% of the time no matter who’s watching.”

During her reign, Tomlin has been actively involved in volunteer activities, such as working at the Crenshaw County Alcazar Shrine Club’s Worlds Largest Peanut Boil, organizing a toy drive and more. She also serves as a student teacher at The Dance Studio in Luverne and is a student journalist for The Luverne Journal.

Planning to obtain a cosmetology degree from Lurleen B. Wallace Community College and then a business degree from Troy University, Tomlin expressed her gratitude for the DYW program

“I appreciate all of the local businesses and individuals that give their time, money, and services to the Distinguished Young Women program,” Tomlin said. “Without the funding, the program wouldn’t be possible. I am extremely thankful for the scholarships I have received from the program. They will help me to hopefully attend college debt-free and be able to give back to my community in the future as a local business owner.”

“Distinguished Young Women,” formerly known as America’s Junior Miss, was founded in 1958 to reward the accomplishments of high school senior girls seeking higher education. It is the oldest and largest national scholarship program for high school girls. The program directly impacts participants through Life Skills Workshops, providing valuable skills for their journey beyond high school.

Tickets for the Friday night preliminary, Saturday afternoon preliminary, and Saturday night finals programs are available for purchase now at: