The Newly Crowned Rose Queen: A Voice for the Voiceless

Nadia Chung is pictured introducing herself to the Tournament of Roses leadership. Each year, the Royal Court receives training in different areas – leadership, etiquette, media and speech training – which they use when introducing themselves.
Photo provided by Tournament of Roses

By Bethany BROWN

La Cañada High School senior Nadia Chung was recently named the 103rd Rose Queen by The Pasadena Tournament of Roses. She intends on using her voice and position to foster connection and amplify the voices of others who may feel as if they cannot be heard.

Chung said it initially took a couple days for her to understand that the dream she had as a child had come true.

“It’s a surreal experience,” Chung said. “I feel incredibly grateful to be able to serve in this capacity and just overjoyed altogether.”

She hopes to help encourage connection among all members of the Rose Court and, on a greater scale, the City of Pasadena as a whole. There are over 100 events scheduled between now until January and, throughout the public events, she wants to emphasize their theme of “Dream. Believe. Achieve.” and spread positivity within the community.

Chung said the city continues to inspire her daily.

“All the change that I see on a daily basis is really encouraging – to see how we can all come together even after COVID and restore our connection and comradery with another – it’s just wonderful to see the community uniting together,” Chung said. “I hope that we continue to have optimism as we go through challenges and recover as a community through everything that we’ve been through in the last few years.”

Ultimately Chung aspires to serve those who are underserved and promote civil rights and social justice with plans to become a civil rights attorney after college.

She emphasized that this path began with her participation in the LCHS speech and debate team. When she first joined as a freshman, she told her coach she only wanted to do speech and not debate because she was scared to debate on unfamiliar topics. Her teacher “practically forced” her into debating and Chung said she could not be more grateful for that.

“Debate has allowed me to open my mind to so many different topics I would have never known about otherwise, whether that’s international or global affairs or what’s going on in the United States on a smaller scale that I might be less aware of,” Chung said. “It has allowed me to understand other people’s perspectives.”

Chung started a club at school to help the homeless. “The Mini Mission” donates freshly bagged lunches to the Pasadena donation center for Union Station to help promote accessible and healthy food for those who are unable to be housed and may not have access to that type of food otherwise. Over the past couple of years, the club has provided over 400 lunches to those in need. She has also helped lead a Black Lives Matter protest in La Cañada and has attended anti-gun violence events.

“I love being a part of the change in a more physical and concrete way,” Chung said. “Hopefully one day, in the position of being a civil rights attorney, all my study of journalism and politics will allow me to have a thorough perspective with which I can understand people’s stories, help them to actually find justice and feel represented in a really sound way.”