Distinguished Through the Decades: 2020, Bailey Bolton
Today, Red Bay’s Bailey Bolton is a student at Itawamba Community College in Fulton, Miss. After graduation – slated for May 2022 – she has plans to transfer to Mississippi State University to major in elementary education.
“I have had the best experience and made so many great friends at ICC,” said Bolton, who was salutatorian of the Red Bay High School Class of 2020. “It really is the best community college in Mississippi, and I’m so thankful for it. I cannot wait for new experiences and friendships when I transfer to state this fall.”
During high school, Bolton said she was active in multiple sports and clubs, dedicating most of her time to varsity cheer, in which she was cheer captain, and to the FFA String Band. “I absolutely loved doing both of those things and would go back to high school one more time just to cheer a Friday night game or perform with my best friends on the stage,” she said.
When it came to Distinguished Young Women, Bolton found herself signing up at the encouragement of family friend Beth Hammock. “I also knew of many girls before me that enjoyed DYW and learned so much from their experience,” Bolton added.
Like so many of her fellow Junior Misses and Distinguished Young Women, Bolton said she fondly remembers her time representing Franklin County at state as “the most challenging, most rewarding and best experience ever.”
“The girls were all so genuine and encouraging, and I honestly never wanted to leave,” Bolton said. “I was challenged so much that week and left feeling so proud of myself.” It was an experience Bolton remembers as being bookended with tears – for very different reasons. “I remember on the way there I was so nervous and honestly crying because I was afraid I wasn’t good enough or wouldn’t be liked by the other girls,” she said. “That was far from the case. I was crying when I had to leave because I knew how much I would miss these girls. I can’t even describe the love I have for this program.”
She is a familiar face in Red Bay, where she works part time at Community Spirit Bank when she’s not in class at ICC. “It is a blessing to work with my family, who daily points me to Christ and loves me so well,” said Bolton, whose father, Brad Bolton, is CSB president and CEO. Her sister Brooklyn works there as well.
Outside of her work and her studies, Bolton said she enjoys traveling and playing guitar any chance she gets. At DYW she played guitar and sang Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” and she said she also loves singing in church.
After college, Bolton said she is looking forward to having her own classroom and getting to teach little ones. “I cannot wait to bless and teach them, and I know they will bless and teach me so many things in return.” Her future plans also including meeting and marrying “the man God has picked out for me” and starting a family “with a lot of kids and a lot of dogs.”
Ultimately, Bolton said DYW impacted her the most through the other young women she met and the memories they made together. “We challenged, encouraged, loved and learned from each other so well,” said Bolton, who called DYW the “best experience of my life.” “We all had so much in common, and it is still so cool keeping up with each other on social media.”
She said she encourages every high school girl to participate in DYW. “It is a chance of a lifetime, and you will not regret it,” she said. “The friendships I made and the experience of a lifetime was worth so much” – worth even more, in fact, than the scholarships she received. “I will forever be thankful for this program, all who encouraged me and love me every day, the amazing women who put this program together every year and to my God for his abundant blessings daily.”
Bolton is the daughter of Brad and Julie Bolton.