Royal Court for 2020 Tournament of Roses is announced

Rukan Saif, Arcadia High School; Mia Thorsen, Marshall Fundamental School; Emilie Risha, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy; Reese Rosental Saporito, Marshall Fundamental School; Michael Wilkins, Maranatha High School; Camille Kennedy, La Salle College Preparatory; Cole Fox, South Pasadena High School (L-R)

by Laura Berthold Monteros

The hustle and bustle of parents, schoolmates, reporters, photographers, and Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association members died down when Ruth Martinez-Baenen, chair of the Queen & Court Committee, stepped behind the lectern. After three weeks of interviews with applicants, she averred that it was very difficult to make the choice of which seven girls would become Rose Princesses. The process culminated on Monday morning with the announcement of the young women would serve on the 2020 Royal Court. They will represent the association and the city at some 100 events, including the 131st Rose Parade on Jan. 1, 2020.

As the 25 finalists, each on the arm of a committee member, filed out of Tournament House, Martinez-Baenen read out the names and schools. Screams of family and friends filled the air as the girls were introduced. Photographers snapped photos, writers scribbled in notebooks, and some of us did both. Then Pres. Laura Farber stepped up and opened the seven envelopes one at a time.

“From South Pasadena High School, Cole Fox!” she read. “From La Salle College Preparatory, Camille Kennedy.” Following quickly were Michael Wilkins, Maranatha High School; Reese Rosental Saporito, Marshall Fundamental School; Emilie Risha, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy; Mia Thorsen, Marshall Fundamental School; Rukan Saif, Arcadia High School.

Be sure to page through the photo gallery below. Video will be coming to All Things Rose Parade on Facebook soon!

After the announcement, we were allowed four minutes to run though the line and get quotes. Here’s a sampling”

  • We overheard Princess Cole tell a TV reporter that she is “Loud and proud” and looking forward to getting to know the other girls on the court.
  • Princess Camille said that she was not expecting to be selected. “It feels surreal now,” she said.
  •  “I’ve lived in Pasadena my whole life,” Princess Michael said of her motivation to try out for the court. “I wanted to be the person everyone can look up to.” an example for others.
  • “It’s so exciting!” Princess Reese said. “It’s amazing! I am extremely excited.”
  • “Every time you came back for an interview, there was a flutter in your heart,” Princess Emilie told us.
  • Princess Mia expressed a similar emotion when she was notified she would be moving to the next round. “Every time I got the congratulation email, I was nervous all over again,” she said, adding that as the interview sessions progresses, the remaining girls grew closer.
  • Princess Rukan was especially surprised when Pres. Farber read her name. “I was the last one called,” she reminded us, which meant the odds of getting a place on the court were slimmer.

The official Tournament of Roses bios

Cole Fox is a senior at South Pasadena High School and lives in South Pasadena. She is currently Associated Student Body senior class vice president, Copa De Oro (Yearbook) Head of Design, Student Site Council secretary, Girl Scouts of America member, POSSE Foundation Scholarship Semi-Finalist, and lead in school play “Metamorphoses.” Cole enjoys vegan cooking, Sudoku puzzles, creative writing, painting, hairstyling and dancing. She plans to study biology and attend medical school. Ultimately, she aspires to become a dermatologist and is interested in attending New York University, University of California, Los Angeles, University of California, Santa Barbara or Boston University. Cole is the daughter of Robert and Rachel Fox; she has two siblings, Harper and Sawyer.

Camille Kennedy is a senior at La Salle College Preparatory and lives in Pasadena. She is currently a part of her school’s musical theater troupe and has played the lead role in four productions. Camille is a member of the After-hours chorus class and the Support Our Troops Club. Camille enjoys listening to music, performing in theater productions with friends, working out with her dad, and cooking. She plans to pursue a liberal arts degree in Japanese linguistics, social sciences, or culture and media studies. Camille is interested in attending university in Japan, Waseda University in Tokyo and Asia Pacific University in Kyushu. Camille is the daughter of Jim and Jennifer Kennedy; she has two sisters, Ava and Esme.

Emilie Risha is a senior at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy and lives in La Cañada. She is currently treasurer of the Young Writers’ Society, president of gardening in the Cooking and Gardening Club, Saint Francis High School Theatre dance captain and a member of the Library Advisory Board, Comedy Sportz, and Girl Scouts of Greater LA. Emilie enjoys dancing, writing, cooking, and reading. She plans to study comedy writing and copywriting. Emilie is interested in attending University of California, Los Angeles, Loyola Marymount University, University of California, Davis, or Chapman University. Emilie is the daughter of Janah and Elizabeth Risha; she has three sisters, Lauren, Allison and Isabelle.

Rukan Saif is a senior at Arcadia High School and lives in Temple City. She is currently president of My Friend and I Club, National Honor Society vice president, captain of the Speech and Debate Team, Senior Men and Women secretary, Bangladeshi-American Charitable Organization ambassador and represented her high school at Girls’ State Conference. Rukan enjoys spending time with loved ones, playing the marimba, writing poetry, reading, and hiking. She plans to study American studies and history in hopes of later working towards a graduate degree. Rukan is interested in attending Brown University, Univeristy of California, Los Angeles, or Georgetown University. Rukan is the daughter of Saif Haroon and Rumana Rashid.

Reese Rosental Saporito is a senior at Marshall Fundamental School and lives in Altadena. She is currently a member of the varsity soccer team, International Thespian Society, National Honor Society, Unidos, Mock Trial, the Drama Council clerk, a Posse Scholar and AYSO Soccer captain. Reese enjoys musical theater, soccer, and participating in Moorpark Teaching Zoo Junior Safari program. She plans to become a lawyer with a science background, while staying involved in community theater. Reese is interested in attending Northwestern University or Georgetown University. Reese is the daughter of Chris and Dori Rosental Saporito; she has one sister, Maya.

Mia Thorsen is a senior at Marshall Fundamental School and lives in Altadena. She is currently president of the Girls Soccer Club, vice president of the Storytellers Club, manager of varsity Girls Soccer, a member of the Asian Club, Black Student Union, National Honors Society, Unidos, PolySummer, Prom Committee and the UCLA Early Academic Outreach Program (EAOP). Mia enjoys oil painting, creative writing, sketching, sociology, politics, psychology, reading, soccer, tennis, and human geography. She plans to study international law to become a United Nations ambassador. Mia is interested in attending Brown, Barnard, Tufts, UCSB. Mia is the daughter of Remus and Dina Thorsen; she has one brother, Thor.

Michael Wilkins is senior at Maranatha High School and lives in Pasadena. She is currently captain of varsity tennis, and a member of the Ambassador Club, Helping Hands Club, and Advanced Speech and Debate. Michael enjoys tennis, public speaking, golf, swimming, babysitting, spending time with family, traveling, and getting her nails done with her mom. She plans to study medicine with the goal to become pediatrician. Michael is interested in attending the University of Southern California, University of California, Los Angeles, Howard University, University of California, San Diego, University of Oregon, or Loyola Marymount University. Michael is the daughter of Overton Wilkins and Jane Reese-Wilkins.

The Announcement and Coronation of the 102nd Rose Queen® and Presentation of the 2020 Royal Court is on Tuesday, October 22, 2019 at the Pasadena Playhouse; the event is sponsored by Citizens Business Bank. A limited number of tickets are available for purchase from Sharp Seating Company.