Lincoln High's Anand relishes role as Rose Festival Queen
Faced with a most unusual senior year, both from a societal standpoint and as a Rose Festival Court member, Anya Anand has chosen the positive approach.
Anand was selected to represent Lincoln High School on the Rose Festival Court on March 12, and she turned 18 years old on March 16, "just around the time of the shutdown" for the COVID-19 pandemic.
So much for a glorious ending to her senior year. Her life turned upside-down. The traditional Rose Festival, including all the court activities and the Queen's Coronation, had to be canceled, leaving some virtual and in-person events.
"I've been basically in quarantine mostly for my entire adult life, which is really interesting," she said. "I was definitely sad about it. I'm a senior, and missing out on those things, and missing out on a full five-week travel season the Rose Festival Court usually gets. I've slowly come to terms with it, that this is happening and there's not much we can do about it."
With summer's arrival, the Rose Festival Court members finally had the opportunity to meet one another in person and vote on their queen and ... it's Anand. She was announced as the new Queen of Rosaria on Thursday, July 30, at a ceremony at the Queens' Walk in the International Rose Test Garden at Washington Park.
Usually volunteers engage and vote on the queen, but because of COVID-19, court members voted to decide who the queen would be.
"When I first heard my name, it immediately hit me that it was my peers who voted for me and believed in me that I could do the queenly duties and represent the Rose Festival well," Anand said. "It was a boost of confidence. Being a part of the Rose Festival Court creates a bond that lasts forever."
Court appearances and activities had to be canceled, but princesses recently visited the Alaska Airlines operations center at Portland International Airport, Port of Portland Fire Department, Portland's White House and a couple senior homes. Some senior home residents were allowed to visit with court members outside, and princesses paraded around in golf carts, a car and a bus.
"Right now, I don't know of any activities planned. Everything's up in the air; things are changing by the day," Anand said, of her royal role. "If I can't go out and do anything physically, I want to be a symbol of the tradition and a constant in a world that's not constant right now."
Anand plans to attend the University of California-Davis and major in psychology — she has chosen online learning from home for her freshman year — and perhaps attend medical school to be a pediatrician.
"My parents call me the 'little doctor' of the family," she said. "I always carried a Band-Aid kit with me; if somebody had a cut, I'd be the one tending to it."
Among Anand's activities, she volunteered as co-president of the Associated Student Body and Asian Student Union and served as co-chair of Multnomah Youth Commission Committee. She's passionate about education and Rural Education and Literacy in India, and Anand visited a remote village in India to give free education to underprivileged kids.
"This is to encourage girls to be self-sufficient, independent and secure a better life for themselves," she said, "in an area that predominantly doesn't provide or allow education for girls."
Anand's parents are from South India, and they have taken her to visit their home country many times.
"We have our Indian community here in Portland, and it's cool to see the extension of that in India," she said. "It's such a different culture with the same values we have. It's interesting to see cousins, aunts and uncles have grown up so differently than me."
Her father, Anand Pashpupathy, works at Intel. Her mother, Kalla, owns Kumon Math and Reading Learning Centers.
Anand is working a summer job in online sales, and eager to start her online college learning.
"I've been in the house for four to five months and, while I love my family, it does get to be a lot," she said. "I was excited to go to college, but my family and I made the decision (to do online) for my health. Rather be safe than sorry."
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