Arcadia Finalists In Tournament of Roses Royal Court


Sophia Li, Staff Writer

This year, five Arcadia High School students were finalists for the 2022 Tournament of Roses Royal Court program. These young women include seniors Parisa Haq, Rylie Harada, Sebina Rothschild, Swetha Somasundaram, and Anya Yang. One of the finalists, Swetha, went on to make the Royal Court in the final round. 

“I always loved seeing the royal court on their floats when I was little, and they’d exude this power and confidence that I just wanted to be a part of,” Princess Swetha reflected.

Each year, about 1,000 young women or so between ages 17 to 21 go through a selection process for the honor of serving as a member of the Tournament of Roses Royal Court. Each contestant out there has their own reason and inspiration to apply for the program.

Finalist Rylie appreciated her Mom, as she “had been a volunteer at the Tournament of Roses for years now [and] she really pushed me to step out of my comfort zone and to try something new.”

Parisa also said that she was “inspired by Rukan Saif, a member of the 2020 Tournament of Roses Royal Court, to apply.”

Anya, another finalist, expressed that she “initially tried out for fun and thought that it was a great opportunity in the summer to further community service.”

Sebina also enjoyed the experience, as she said, “Week after week I would surprise myself by how far I’d get in the interview process and by how well I’d perform under pressure. Being a part of the top 29 was truly an honor, and I’m so thankful to have had that experience.”

This year, the theme for the Tournament of Roses was ‘Dream, Believe, Achieve’.

“The theme this year was important to me, especially as an immigrant,” Anya stated. 

As for Swetha, princesses like her are set to serve as Tournament ambassadors throughout the greater Southern California area, before riding on the Royal Court float in the 133rd Rose Parade on Jan. 1, 2022. Not only do members participate in iconic traditions, they will also have the opportunity to attend the 108th Rose Bowl game. On Oct. 26, the announcement and coronation of the 103rd Rose Queen presentation will be held, and one Rose Queen will be chosen from the group of seven Rose Princesses. 

So far, it seems that Swetha has been having a great time, as she “can’t wait to be a role model for other little girls!  [There’s] a very diverse court this year and it’s super cool to know l can represent my culture and heritage.” 

“The other girls and I have already bonded a lot — it’s like getting six new sisters!! We went out to get ice cream really late after a training session and it was a super cool moment, even though we were shaking from the cold,” Swetha also shared. 

Looking back, many of the girls gained powerful experiences from their journey of making it to the finals. From a pool of about 1,000 applicants, standing there weeks later with 28 other girls standing by your side isn’t easy. 

“The entire process was really enjoyable and in my opinion, a once in a lifetime experience. The interview portion of the Royal Court definitely helped me with my speaking skills and it really grew my confidence,” Rylie commented.

The same went for Anya, as she said, “It helped a lot in my public speaking abilities, and it’s all about how you present yourself, and being comfortable with you are with the panel of judges. . . The pressure helped me improve each round”.

“The whole process was so formal and professional; I felt like a princess for a moment,” Parisa also remembered. 

As for the young girls out there who one day aspire to be the Queen and Princesses, Swetha and Sebina had some words of advice.

“Really I wanted to inspire little girls the way previous courts inspired me. . . go for it if you’re excited and really are passionate about being an ambassador,” Swetha commented. 

“Staying true to your intentions is key. Throughout the interview process, I was very vulnerable about my experience with ADHD and dyslexia. I was vocal about how I believe having a neurodivergent individual on the royal court will be empowering those with learning disabilities. . . Ultimately, have fun with the experience!” said Sebina.