Bodiford Crowned Distinguished Young Woman

Published 3:26 pm Thursday, June 27, 2024

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

The Distinguished Young Woman of Crenshaw County program, formerly known as America’s Junior Miss, held its annual competition June 22 at the Luverne United Methodist Church Dei Center. Three Crenshaw County students competed at the county level in this esteemed program, which aims to empower young women to achieve their goals through scholarship money and “being their true selves.” 

Jessica Bodiford of Highland Home, MaKaylah Green of Luverne and Mary Miles of Highland Home participated in the program. After an intense and impressive display of talent, intellect, fitness and self-expression, Bodiford, a rising senior at Highland Home School, emerged victorious.

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Bodiford earned the title of 2025 Distinguished Young Woman of Crenshaw County as well as the contest’s Scholastic Award.

The daughter of Lee Don and Jocelyn Bodiford, Jessica’s accomplishments were recognized with a $1,500 cash scholarship and a full-tuition scholarship to Lurleen B. Wallace (LBW) Community College valued at $3,000. Her win also means she will represent Crenshaw County at the state program in January 2025 where she will compete for the statewide title and additional scholarship money.

Bodiford plans on having a career in the medical field as an ultrasound technician and is very thankful for the opportunities that DYW has and will continue to provide for her.

“First off, I would like to thank Co-Chairman Emily Anne Morgan for all that she does for DYW,” Bodiford said. “Without her there would be no Crenshaw County DYW. Also, I would like to thank all our sponsors because without them we wouldn’t have this scholarship program. I appreciate them so much.”

MaKaylah Green was named First Alternate and winner of the Interview, Fitness and Self-Expression categories. Mary Miles was named second Alternate and awarded the Spirit, Be Your Best Self Essay and Talent awards.

Contestants were evaluated in five distinct categories: interview for 25% of the total score, scholastics for 25%, talent for 20%, fitness for 15% and self-expression for the remaining 15%. Scholarships were awarded in each category as well as overall, making the program a significant source of financial aid for young women pursuing higher education.

In a heartwarming reflection, 2024 Distinguished Young Woman, Ella-Kate Tomlin, talked about her transformative experience during her reign. Tomlin, daughter of Rusty Tomlin and Kelly Miley Downing, said that participating in various activities, including being a tour guide at the Governor’s Mansion Christmas Tour, riding in parades, attending several luncheons with esteemed figures, and competing in Alabama’s Distinguished Young Woman Program held in Montgomery this past Jan., helped her significantly with personal growth.

“I am so extremely thankful for the Distinguished Young Woman Program and their dedication to empowering young women like me,” said Tomlin. “Thanks to DYW, I have made so many memories, friendships and connections. I am so grateful that I will be able to attend college debt-free through this program. I am truly honored to have been awarded this opportunity and so thankful for the year I have had.”

The Distinguished Young Women organization, founded in 1958, stands as the oldest and largest national nonprofit that offers scholarship opportunities to upcoming high school senior girls.For more information visit

Photos courtesy of Emily Anne Morgan and Peyton Taylor.