I can still remember the night that I was given the title of the 2002 Southern California Rose of Tralee". I remember thinking how much fun it was going to be to go to represent my centre, travel to Ireland for the first time, and experience the fun of the festival that all of the past roses had shared with me over the years. What I didn't thinkabout was what the experience would mean to me personally and longer term. My time in Ireland for the festival was one of huge growth for me. Meeting new people from all around the world, being immersed in a new culture for 3 weeks, and having to step out of my comfort zone while participating in interview and media appearances.
Such anew experience for a girl from laid back Redondo Beach! Since the festival, I have continued to feel the effects from my Tralee experience. I have since traveled back to Ireland 4 times to visit the friends that I made during my time there- still being recognized by the occasional fan- although not so much anymore! Additionally, I have two best friends as a result of the festival- the 2002 San Francisco Rose of Tralee (Erin Lucey) who is still living in Ireland and the 2002 Washington DC Rose of Tralee (Joy Peck) who ended up marrying her escort from Tralee and are now the proud parents of 2 future roses!
The experiences from the festival, along with the friends that I made along the way, have impacted who I am today and I have everyone involved with this great program to thank!