Distinguished Young Woman of Alabama looks back on state program

NORTH SHELBY – As Distinguished Young Woman of Alabama, Claire Kendrick of Shelby County is preparing for the national competition while looking back on the state program with fond memories.

Leading up to program, which was held Jan. 20-21 in Montgomery, Kendrick said she tried to stay up-to-date on current events and focused on her fitness and dancing, which she performed for the talent portion of the program.

Kendrick, a student at Valleydale Christian Academy in North Shelby County. arrived in Montgomery on Jan. 13. The days leading up to the program were spent with a host family, which she said made her feel welcome even though she had no cell phone access and therefore was unable to connect with family and friends.

Kendrick’s host family had a pizza party for other contestants and their host families, Kendrick said.

“Host families are the best,” she said. “They will do absolutely anything, and they just love on us the whole week.”

Kendrick said the most difficult part of the program was the on-stage question which contestants who make the top eight must answer.

“You have no idea what question they are going to ask you,” she said.

Kendrick’s question was about what she would like to see in the next generation of women.

“I talked about confidence and how social media has helped create this unrealistic perception of beauty,” she said. “I think the next generation is going to have a solid understanding of what true beauty is, and with that will come confidence.”

Kendrick will receive more than $8,000 in scholarship money, and will begin preparing for the national competition, which will begin June 29 in Mobile.

As Distinguished Young Woman of Alabama, Kendrick will visit schools to talk about the “Be Your Best Self Platform,” which she said encourages young women to be healthy, ambitious, involved, responsible and studious.