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franklin county times

Distinguished Through the Decades: 2014, Julie Masterson Russ

PROGRESS 2022 – Distinguished Through the Decades

Today Julie (Masterson) Russ is a wife and mother with infant twin girls. In 2014 she was a senior at Russellville High School and Franklin County’s Distinguished Young Woman.

“Maggie Coan (Franklin County DYW 2013) asked me to be her Little Sister, and that was my main introduction to the program,” explained Russ. “I loved it so much I wanted to do it myself the next year. I loved meeting all the different girls from not only Franklin County but Colbert and Lauderdale as well. I made a ton of friends and had so much fun learning the dances and being around the girls that week.”

The daughter of Jeff and Leah Masterson, Russ sang “Ain’t Misbehavin” for her talent. “I did show choir throughout middle school and high school and the elementary school choir. Singing was always my go-to talent when I did pageants, like Miss RHS.”

She also remembers her on-stage self-expression question and how nervous she was, and winning first place in the fitness portion, but her strongest memories are of the relationships she built through the experience – particularly at state.

“You’re kind of thrown into this crazy situation of living with a host family, she said. “Everyone is kind of unsure, so you bond together to get through that week. We formed a lot of friendships, and I’m still friends – both through the local program and the state level – with all the girls I’ve met, on Facebook and Instagram, and a few that were from south Alabama came to UNA, so I’ll see them out in Florence sometimes, and we’ll hug and catch up.”

She said her younger sister Jill was a big support during both programs, “just helping me prepare, practice my song and practice my interview questions. She’s just the best.”

Russ’ other school activities included cheer as well as student council. After RHS she went to Mississippi State University, graduating in 2018 with her bachelor’s degree in communication, with a double concentration in public relations and journalism.

She married her high school sweetheart, Matthew, in March 2019. He attended the University of Mississippi School of Law, and when he graduated, the couple moved to Huntsville, where she works as an admissions counselor at The University of Alabama–Huntsville and he has a position at a law firm. The couple welcomed their twin girls in July 2022.

Russ is continuing her education, working on earning her master’s degree in professional communication from UAH. “I’d love to stay there and use my master’s in some way once I have graduated.”

For future potential DYW competitors, Russ has the following advice: “Totally do it.”

“Even if you’re kind of nervous of being on stage, and if it’s not in your comfort zone, all the better,” said Russ. “It’s a great way to make connections at the local level and then, if you go on, to the state level as well. It’s also just a great network of women – a support system. It’s a great way to get involved in a positive organization that represents Alabama women in a positive way.

“I would encourage anyone to participate.”

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