The TofR: More than a ride down Colorado Boulevard
After weeks of more than 150 community activities and media functions, culminating with the Tournament of Roses Parade on Jan. 2, members of this year’s Rose Court finally had some time to reflect upon their duties and soak up the memories that will, no doubt, last a lifetime.
Two young ladies serving on the 2012 Rose Court attend Catholic high schools: Queen Drew Washington is a senior at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy in La Canada and Cynthia Megan Louie attends La Salle High School in Pasadena.
Washington is a member of the National Honor Society and captain of the school’s varsity volleyball and track and field teams. She is active in the Student Ambassador Club, SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), the Multi-cultural Club and the Latin Club.
Louie is a member of the Student Life rally team at La Salle, and gives tours as a “700 Volunteer.” A Student Ambassador at her school, Louie also builds on her passion for the arts by serving on the Nordstrom BP Fashion Board.
The Tidings asked both students to share what the Rose Court experience brought to them.
What's one of your favorite memories being on the Rose Court?
Drew: Attending the events involving interaction with young children. One of my fondest memories is visiting Huntington Gardens where there was a group of about 140 fourth grade students from Longfellow Elementary School. Here, they were actually decorating their own miniature floats. It amazed me to see their creativity come through in their art work.
After decorating, we all gathered in a room where the children asked us questions such as “What is your favorite color?” and “What is your favorite food?” and it simply put a smile on my face to see that we were role models for these young children.
Cynthia: Everyone always expects the actual Rose Parade to be the biggest highlight or my favorite memory, but, I personally enjoyed the journey so much more than simply just the ride. I remember being at an event hosted by the Girls Scouts Organization and when I, along with the rest of the court, entered the Irwindale float warehouse, we saw this huge line of little girls all waiting to meet us. This was the most incredible feeling.
As a young girl, did you want to be part of the Rose Court? What do you remember from those early days?
Drew: Growing up in Pasadena my entire life I have lived and breathed the Tournament of Roses Parade every New Year’s Day. One of the main reasons I actually tried out to be on the Royal Court was because of the impact that a past princess had on me. Princess Katie Hernandez of the 2010 Royal Court was a mentor for me all throughout my high school career. She took me under her wing and helped me with whatever I needed whether it was sports or academics.
Cynthia: I have always wanted to be a part of the Rose Court and to sit on the beautiful Macy’s float with the perfect wave, but I never saw it as something that I would actually be capable of doing; it was one of those dreams that seemed so impossible that it was even a joke. I remember my aunt saying that she would train me to one day become a princess, but I never took her seriously. But look where I am today!
What do your friends ask you the most about serving on the Court? What are they most interested in?
Drew: The most frequently asked questions I get are, “Do you get to keep the clothes?” and “How do you get along with the other girls?” Our clothes are sponsored by Macys and are absolutely wonderful, and yes, I do get to keep them. As for the girls, I have never had a closer bond with six girls in my entire life. Spending almost all of our time together, we have grown very close and have found that we all have so much in common.
My faith has been a very integral part in helping me through this experience…. I knew with God’s help I could persevere through anything and God was by my side one hundred percent of the way.
Cynthia: A lot of my friends ask me if I like the girls on the court, and once I reply, “Yes, of course, I love them,” then my friends say, “No, really, you can tell me,” as if they don’t believe me. It’s incredible how close we’ve become in such a short time, but I’ve never felt a stronger bond with friends before, and I know we will all be in each other’s lives forever.
What did you learn about yourself during this experience?
Drew: Throughout the entire experience I grew as a young woman. I learned how to carry myself in a room full of strangers, and [I gained] public speaking skills that will last me a lifetime. Going to multiple events with primarily adults, I have also acquired a stronger sense of maturity.
Cynthia: I’ve learned how to act like an adult. I’ve always acted more like a child with a quirky personality than any of my other senior high school friends. I have a lot of energy and I’m really outgoing and sometimes I forget that I am 18 now. [Being on the] Rose Court has really taught me to see myself in a different light, and to channel my positive energy in a professional manner.
How has your faith helped you with this experience?
Drew: I am not Catholic, but my faith has been a very integral part in helping me through this experience. I trust in God to help me through all of the late-night study sessions and to help me cope with the stress of constant back-to-back events. I knew with God’s help I could persevere through anything and God was by my side one hundred percent of the way.
Cynthia: I was not raised Catholic but [have] reconnected with my faith recently, though with the help of [fellow] Princess Stephanie. The Rose Court has made me appreciate God so much more though; I feel like I [was] placed here to make some sort of impact, and I am so grateful for that.
What would you tell others who want one day to be a part of the Rose Court?
Drew: Always try your hardest for whatever you set your mind to because with faith, hope and determination, the possibilities are endless. I would also tell them to be themselves because one’s true personality and talents is what will lead them to success.
Cynthia: If you truly want the position for the right reasons, such as for the community service and leadership opportunities, and you want to make a difference, the judges will easily see the passion. But if you try to give fake answers to please the judges, they will also see right through that.