2014_logo.png
2020 Shamrock Princesses 
 
DSC_0092 (2).JPG

Each year the Association invites Irish women 21-and-over to become Miss Shamrock Princesses. The princesses spend six weeks together selling buttons and spreading the Irish cheer. From these princesses the Association chooses the year's Miss Shamrock. The princesses and Miss Shamrock spend the remainder of the year visiting area parades and festivals as representatives of the association.

Meet your 2020 Shamrock Princesses 
Blakely.JPG
Blakely

Hiya! This is Blakely Boggess and she is a Shamrock Princess. She moved around a bit before settling here in Minnesota. Blakely was born and raised in Texas, went to school in New Mexico, and lived in Iowa for four years - she currently live in Eagan. Blakely even spent a year in the United Kingdom! Her love of all things Irish started when she studied abroad in Cork, Ireland and got a deeper look into Ireland's history and culture (and Guinness). Her favorite way of spreading Irish cheer is through clothes - the greener the better.  Besides running for Miss Shamrock 2020, Blakely enjoys reading, watching horror movies, coffee, shopping, playing board games, video games, all things Disney, and spending time with family and friends. She recently got engaged and is juggling planning a wedding and buying a house. Blakely became a Shamrock Princess to meet new people and she is beyond excited to be running for Miss Shamrock this year! She is having a blast with her new Irish family. Bonus fact, she speaks a bit of German. 

Emily.JPG
Emily

Raised in Coon Rapids, MN, Emily's fondest childhood memory includes finding toads and frogs and keeping them as pets in her childhood home’s egress window. In caring for these little critters, she discovered her passion of caring for all living things and the beauty of nature and wildlife. Emily attended Bemidji State University where she received degrees in Biology and Chemistry – all while competing as a collegiate athlete in Cross Country and Track & Field. During her time in Bemidji, Emily developed a newfound passion for rural healthcare and is currently applying to medical school with a hope to one day practice medicine in a small, northern Minnesota town. In her spare time, Emily enjoys running (she is currently training for her 5th marathon!), volunteering as a coach for Girls on the Run, knitting, reading and spending time with her lionhead rabbit, Thumper.

I think I would be a great Miss Shamrock because I can have a meaningful conversation with anyone I meet. I am not afraid to go up to someone and introduce myself, no matter what our differences may be. As the former captain of my college's track/cross country team for two years, I gained leadership skills and the ability to represent organizations I feel passionate about, such as the St. Patrick's Association and my Irish heritage. With my large, supportive Irish family, I feel that I could bring new interest into the association and surrounding community. 

What is the most memorable vacation you’ve taken? 

The most memorable vacation I took was in the Spring of 2014 when my family and I drove from Minnesota to Sarasota, Florida. It was the most memorable vacation I’ve taken because spending 22 hours in a car with your family will really drive you crazy, but it will also make you really appreciate your family and the closeness you all share.

What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done in your life? 

The craziest thing I’ve ever done in my life was jumping into a frozen lake in -10 degree weather for a dare!

If you could be in the movie of your choice, what movie would you choose and what character would you play? 

If I could be in a movie, the movie I would be in is Walt Disney’s movie Tangled. As for the character in the movie, I would play Rapunzel because the message she portrays reminds me of a lot of myself and the woman I continue to strive to become. In the movie, she shows you that you should always step out of your comfort zone, no matter how difficult it may seem. Also, the movie relays a message that you should never give up hope! 

What’s a favorite family memory that has stuck with you? 

A family memory that has stuck with me throughout my life is when my grandparents owned a home in northern Minnesota on a lake. I have such fond memories of spending time with my grandparents in that home, whether it was cooking with my grandma, fishing with my grandpa or just relaxing on the deck and enjoying the beauty of northern Minnesota. These memories stick with me today because the times and experiences I had there shaped me into the person I am today.  

What hobby would you get into if time and money weren’t an issue? 

If time and money were not an issue, a hobby I would love to get into would be downhill skiing in Colorado! I can just imagine the thrill it would be to zip down a cold, snowy hill while enjoying the view of the mountains!

What would your warning label say if every person was required to have one? 

If every person was required to have a warning label, mine would say ‘Warning, may burst out in dance moves and dorky facial expressions without notice!’








Kelly.JPG
Kelly

Kelly Ann Shanahan is a sassy lassy born and bred in Saint Paul, Minnesota. As a child Kelly spent most of her time dancing for Saint Paul Irish Dancers. She graduated from Highland Park Senior High in 2016. Kelly is currently a senior at the University of Minnesota where she is majoring in Political Science with a minor in Wildlife Care and Handling. In her free time Kelly works at Saint Paul Fire as an EMT and the Raptor Center as an environmental educator. She looks forward to attending law school in the fall and specializing in animal law. 

I believe I would make a fantastic Miss Shamrock as a 21 time veteran of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade (I have never missed one!). With my extensive experience with St. Patrick's Day events and Irish Dancing I am well versed in bringing Irish joy and culture to the residents of Saint Paul and beyond. Additionally, I know being Miss Shamrock would be an experience of personal growth, a chance to connect with Saint Paul on a deeper level than I ever knew possible. 

What is the most memorable vacation you've taken?

The most memorable vacation I have taken was a working vacation. In 2016 I was accepted to the first Riverdance Summer Camp. I spent a week in Dublin with the cast of Riverdance learning some of the dances from the show! It was a wonderful experience where I made some lifelong friends and danced harder than I ever knew possible. 

What's the craziest thing you've ever done in your life?

The craziest thing I ever have done is handle a bald eagle. For one of my jobs I work in environmental education, and handling a bald eagle is easily the coolest and most breathtaking experience I’ve had to date (they are dinosaurs I swear). The image that a coworker captured as I was given the bird for the first time has a face of shear awe. While I may not make the same facial expression every time I handle an eagle, that is surely how I feel on the inside when they step onto my glove. 

 If you could be in the movie of your choice, what movie would you choose and what character would you play?

If I could be in any movie I would want to be in the incredibles. I would play Violet  because I can think of some fun shenanigans that I would pull with my invisibility powers. 

What's a favorite family memory that has stuck with you?

My favorite family memory was a two week long road trip we took across Ireland in 2012. Prior to leaving we were able to track down my great grandfather's farm in the county Tipperary which is now a public park. Erected in the center of the old farm is a cross which stands on top of one of the tallest peaks in Ireland. My family and I climbed the heights during a rainstorm to find ourselves on top as it cleared. At the pinnacle we could see the entirety of the emerald isle—I will never forget the view. 

What hobby would you get into if time and money weren’t an issue?

I would definitely get more involved with horseback riding/mounted archery. I was a ‘horse girl’ when I was growing up and it has always been my dream to one day own a horse. I was also an archer in high school, so I would love to combine both of these passions. 

 What would your warning label say if every person was required to have one?

Warning: if given the opportunity, will talk your ear off about obscure law cases, birds, and politics

Megan.JPG
Megan

Megan was born in Chicago on St. Patrick’s Day in 1997. When she was five she started taking Irish dance lessons with the Mullane Irish Dance Academy, In 2005 Megan and her family moved to Woodbury, MN and have lived there ever since. She continued her Irish dance lessons with Rince na Chroi in St. Paul where she had many opportunities to share her Irish heritage with the community by performing at nursing homes, festivals, schools, and of course, the Irish Fair. After 15 years of dancing, Megan retired from performing but can sometimes still be convinced to do a jig at the pub. Megan graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in political science and currently works for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.   

My whole life I have been proud to share my Irish heritage with those around me. Even as a young kid I was constantly talking about how cool it was to be Irish, how much I loved Irish dancing, and that one day I would be Ms. Shamrock. In sixth grade, my school had a graduation ceremony for us before we moved on to middle school. Part of the ceremony consisted of our teachers reading their predictions of where their students would be in 10 years. One of my teacher’s predictions for me was that in 10 years I would be crowned Ms. Shamrock because I had such a deep passion for Irish culture, she couldn’t think of a better person for the job. As Ms. Shamrock, I would continue to spread Irish cheer as I have my whole life. To me, Ms. Shamrock is not just a crown and a fancy spot in the St. Patrick’s Day parade. It is about representing the St. Patrick’s Association and our culture with pride and respect. It is also about working together to increase button sales year after year and as Ms. Shamrock, or even as a former princess, I would work tirelessly with the committees on ways we can improve for the next year. Our Association brings so much to the people of St. Paul and we get to embrace our Irish heritage while doing it. It would be an honor to be Ms. Shamrock. 

What is the most memorable vacation you've taken?

My most memorable vacation would have to be my family’s infamous trip to Florida in 2008. My family and I were stopped at our layover when we saw on the news there was a hurricane headed right for where we were staying. Upon arrival to our condo, we discovered the air conditioning was not working and it was over 90 degrees in the condo. To prepare for the hurricane, my mom, sister, and I drove our rental car to a grocery store for supplies. When we came back out to the car it wouldn’t start and we had to walk back to the condo with all our food and supplies. In between rain showers we were able to enjoy the pool and beach nearby. My mom tried to wash our beach towels but they had not been shaken out well enough and the sand broke the washing machine. We were able to get a new rental car, however, this one leaked oil all over the condo’s garage floor and we had to spend hours cleaning it up. Even with all that going on, we still managed to make some good memories like seeing manatees and convincing my dad to play Disney UNO with us.

What's the craziest thing you've ever done in your life?

The craziest thing I’ve done in my life is walk across the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge in Ireland. It’s a bridge that spans over the North Atlantic that connects the mainland to a small island. It was really high up in the air and only a certain number of people could be on at one time because it couldn’t support too much weight. It was terrifying but the view on the other side was worth it.

If you could be in the movie of your choice, what movie would you choose and what character would you play?

I would be in Mamma Mia and I would want to play Rosie. Rosie doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her and isn’t afraid to make a fool of herself if it means bringing a smile to those she loves. Plus, who wouldn’t want to be part of Donna and the Dynamos!?

What's a favorite family memory that has stuck with you?

One day my mom, sister, and I were driving home from Taylor Falls and when we pulled into the driveway we noticed our dog wandering outside by himself. This was not normal for him so we were curious as to where my dad was. Suddenly, my mom yelled, “Oh my gosh! He’s in the bush!” My dad had been sitting in a chair on the front porch waiting for us to get home and he had fallen backwards into the bush. The only thing I could see was his white, New Balance tennis shoes in the air and I could hear him laughing because he couldn’t get himself up. He was fine but the bush still has a big dent from where he landed.

What hobby would you get into if time and money weren’t an issue?

I would like to hike in all of the nationals parks across the country.

What would your warning label say if every person was required to have one?

Warning: Will eat your French fries.

Stacey.JPG
Stacey

Anastasia (Stacey) Hartman lives in Woodbury, MN. She graduated from the College of St. Catherine in 2005, and has been an Occupational Therapy Assistant for almost 15 years. She currently work for St. Paul Public Schools, as an OT Assistant working with children with special needs. Stacey is also a server at MatchStick in Stillwater. In her free time, she enjoys trying new breweries,  wineries, and restaurants, reading, collage quilting, dancing, snowshoeing and spending time with her loved ones. SHE LOVES DOGS and traveling to Italy and Greece are at the top of her bucket list. 

I feel I would make an ideal Miss Shamrock because of my unique skill set, experiences, and my life journey which has brought me to this point.

What is the most memorable vacation you've taken?

The most memorable vacation I have had was going dogsledding with Chilly Dogs in Ely, MN. It was on my bucket list and easily one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had.

What's the craziest thing you've ever done in your life?

One of the craziest things I have ever done was zip line over treetops and canyons in Costa Rica, and I’m terrified of heights!

If you could be in the movie of your choice, what movie would you choose and what character would you play?

I would be Astrid Hofferson in How to Train your Dragon, because who wouldn’t want to ride around on dragons all day?!

What's a favorite family memory that has stuck with you?

As an only child, my parents have always made Christmas very special for me, including  our family cribbage games which has served me well to this day!

What hobby would you get into if time and money weren’t an issue?

I would travel to all the top wineries of the world and learn a new language, possibly Italian.

What would your warning label say if every person was required to have one?

She is both, hellfire and holy water. And the flavor you taste depends on how you treat her.

Bridget.JPG
Bridget

Bridget is a junior at the University of Minnesota double majoring in Political Science and Journalism. She is currently preparing to take the LSAT, so she will be continuing her education with law school because she is Irish and thus likes to argue. Besides causing shenanigans with the Saint Pat’s association, in Bridgets free time she is a mentor for the leadership institute on campus, a small group leader for CHAARG, and she is in the pre-law society. Bridget is very thankful to be able to add Shamrock Princess to her extra-circulars this year!

Although tragically, I am not a redhead, I believe that I would still be a great representation of Miss Shamrock for the St.Patrick’s Association. I am sociable, a great leader, and very ambitious. I grew up with my Irish heritage being ingrained into my life from my claddagh ring to my yearly attendance to the St.Pat’s parade since birth. My Irish heritage has brought so much joy to my life- it has brought me a spitfire attitude, family, and the second family that I have found in the St. Pat’s association. I want to be able to give my St. Paul community all of the amazing things being Irish has brought me. As Miss Shamrock I would be given the opportunity to do just that while representing the St. Pat’s Association. Lucky me!  









What is the most memorable vacation you've taken?

The most memorable vacation I have taken was to South Dakota. Yes, you read that correctly, I did not say Ireland, but hear me out. My step-mom, Heidi, worked for an airline company, as a result my dad and I flew standby for free. One week, we were planning a for either London, San Francisco, or South Dakota. We ended up going to South Dakota which was none of our first choices, so we were all a bit crabby after arriving. We were driving to a national park and passed a Buffalo Statue. Heidi made a comment about how cute it was then my dad asked if we wanted to take a picture with it. The car remained silent until my dad, whipped the car around back towards the buffalo statue and said, 

“We are going to have fun DANG IT!”

We all burst out laughing and the rest of the trip was a blast. After that trip our family started a tradition of “Fun dang it” vacations. 

What's the craziest thing you've ever done in your life?

The Minnesota Gopher football team was amazing this year- as a University of Minnesota student who was raised to be mildly obsessed with college football this situation was a dream come true. Before the pivotal game against Penn State, I joked with my friends that if the Gopher’s won this game I would get a tattoo of the ‘M’ logo. Then an amazing upset complete with students storming the field, the Gopher’s won. So, long story short I now have a U of MN tattoo. 

If you could be in the movie of your choice, what movie would you choose and what character would you play?

Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope. I would play Princess Leia- I already have the costume in my closet. 

What's a favorite family memory that has stuck with you?

I waited 15 years for siblings. So when my oldest brother, Finn, was born I was very excited. Finn had jaundice when he was born, so when he came home from the hospital he laid on a light table in order to combat it. My dad, step-mom, and step-grandma took shifts watching him on the table. One evening, I volunteered to watch Finn on his little table and I ended up spending almost an hour watching him. As he looked into my eyes and held my finger- I could literally feel the bond we were forming during that hour. Finn is now 5 year olds and our bond has changed and grown, but I still cherish that first bonding moment that I had with him. 

What hobby would you get into if time and money weren’t an issue?

I would love to use my background in journalism and media to make Youtube travel videos. These videos would focus on natural and cultural sites of the states/countries I covered, rather than traditional tourist destinations. I would also utilize and document sustainable travel while making these videos. 

What would your warning label say if every person was required to have one?

Warning: Is very prone to HANGER, please feed regularly (both food or a pint are acceptable remedies). 

Jen.JPG
Jen

Jen Conner is an energetic St. Paul girl, who loves volunteering!  She is actively involved with her running team, Team Red, White & Blue, which is a veterans/civilians team that helps reconnect veterans to their communities after deployments and/or active duty.  

She also volunteers for the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, and is on the Ambassador Board as their Promotional Activities Chair.  

She believes volunteering is one of the best ways to give back and get the community involved.

In her spare time, she enjoys doing face painting with her friend at St. Jude charity events.   Jen also enjoys crafts, DIY projects, reading, and running, which she took up accidentally almost 3 years ago.

She’s excited to be a Shamrock Princess, and to celebrate St. Paul and a great organization.  

Giving back and helping in my community is very important to me, and I feel this opportunity would allow me to do both on a higher level.  Being friendly, outgoing and energetic are also helpful in getting others involved, and that’s one of the missions of the association.  You are only as great as your accomplishments, so challenge accepted! 

What is the most memorable vacation you've taken?

When my family went to the Cayman Islands when I was 14.  We went at Christmas, and it was so fun to leave the snow and cold and spend 10 days in tropical temperatures!  I spent my time walking the beaches, enjoying the sunshine, and making memories with my family.  Returning to -23 in Minnesota after it was also memorable.. 

What's the craziest thing you've ever done in your life?

A few years ago I accidentally took up running as a hobby?  I did a 5K with a friend, then another one with another friend..  After a few months of doing random 5K’s, I found an amazing running team, and almost 3 years, and 160+ races later, here I am, and still loving it?  

If you could be in the movie of your choice, what movie would you choose and what character would you play?

The Great Gatsby no questions!  I’d love to play Daisy, because she was so complicated yet was up for anything, which is a lot like me.   I also love the time period of it, and F. Scott Fitzgerald is my favorite author too. 

What's a favorite family memory that has stuck with you?

Spending holidays with my cousins and extended family when I was little.  My siblings were all a lot older than me, but my cousins were close in age, so the holidays were always fun.  We would have big family parties and I’d have fun with my cousins.  

What hobby would you get into if time and money weren’t an issue?

Painting.  Monet is one of my favorite artists, and I’ve always wished I could paint like he did.  I’d also like to travel to the places I was painting, so it would be an extra fun hobby. 

What would your warning label say if every person was required to have one?

Warning: May contain high amounts of glitter!  I literally leave a trail of it wherever I go, and it’s how I got my nickname Sparkles. 

Kennedy.JPG
Kennedy

Kennedy is a recent graduate of Palm Beach Atlantic University, she knows she left the beaches for the cold of Minnesota. She is currently enrolled in grad school at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology studying to become a behavioral therapist. Kennedy has lived in Minnesota her whole life in the southern  suburbs of  St. Paul so she knows Minnesota well. She heard about Miss Shamrock for the first time this year and was so excited to sign up and meet new people. Kennedy is excited for this season and can't wait to see whats to come. 

I Think I would make a good Miss Shamrock because I am outgoing, funny and I really enjoy being around people. I also love helping out anyone around me when needed, and I would drop anything for the people I know. 

What is the most memorable vacation you've taken?

When I was in high school I had the opportunity  to go to New York with my school, I had been before in the past but never got to do the tourist thing. This trip was memorable because i got to enjoy it with some of my best friends and we got to see Les Mes on Broadway! That is my all time favorite  musical, I may have cried a few times watching it be performed on stage.

What's the craziest thing you've ever done in your life?

I Have gone free climbing on some rocks in Duluth, it wasn't very safe, i'm no professional, but it wasn't very high. It was so much fun, and a huge rush to be climbing. I've only fallen one time and I ended up with some stitches, but nothing too crazy. 

If you could be in the movie of your choice, what movie would you choose and what character would you play?

I would be in Miss Congeniality and I would play the lead female role. My family has always joked I'm a lot like the lead in that movie.  

What's a favorite family memory that has stuck with you?

There isn't one specific  memory, but as a kid my siblings  and I would stay home alone all summer. In this time we always got up to some crazy antics, we one time broke a whole sliding glass door. It was always fun in the summer. 

What hobby would you get into if time and money weren’t an issue?

I would travel the world and backpack across all countries. 

What would your warning label say if every person was required to have one?

WARNING: May have random outburst of energy, do not run if she gets loud. 

Savannah.JPG
Savannah

Facts: 27 years old. Redhead, and Mother of 1., Lactose & racism intolerant, pansexual, and married to her college sweetheart for nearly 5 years. Hamline University 14’. Music and History are her passions, and software engineering pays the bills!

From her core, Savannah considers herself a thoughtful, compassionate and engaged woman. Born in Minnesota but raised in Tucson, Arizona, she was immersed in a loving family and with a strong network of people who cared about her. Being showered in love, it was apparent how little love existed for the downtrodden. Savannah is pushed forward by a deeply personal desire to make sure everyone feels wanted and included when society so often tells us that we are not. The love of her partner sustains Savannah (married for nearly 5 years), and together they are able to support each other's highest pursuits. They have a beautiful daughter and home in the Rondo neighborhood of St. Paul that is close to her family, our alma mater (Hamline University) and their friends. While Savannahs personal identity can feel complicated, juggling the expectations of a mother, worker, friend while pursuing her own wants and desires is simply a matter of knowing which balls are rubber and which are glass. Pursuing the Miss Shamrock title is not only a way for Savannah to help center her own needs and desires, but a way for her to hear new stories and share all of the love and charity her heart can provide.

To be honest, I’ve got stiff competition this year. Every one of the women running is an excellent candidate, and I think they’d do a great job! 

However, I think I’d make an excellent Miss Shamrock for a few reasons, and I’ll list them out here.

I’ve always found myself drawn to volunteering, and working with the people around me - when I was 12, I attended my first Leadership conference (put on by the Tucson-Pima Women’s Political Caucus, in Arizona), and met Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and future Mayor Regina Romero - and was inspired by the amazing women that worked so hard before I was ever a twinkle in my mother’s eye. In fact, one of the first times I ever volunteered of my own volition was to go door-knocking for Mayor Romero’s city council campaign - which was a fantastic experience. More recently I’ve served as an election judge, and volunteered at the DFL state convention on the Credentials committee (making sure people could vote), because it’s important to me that people engage in the democratic process. 

In middle school, I volunteered as a Peer Educator for Planned Parenthood of Tucson, AZ, and spent afternoons going to various other schools helping to teach other kids about safe sex, and trying to remove the stigma of speaking about sex. (My mother is a physician, and quite early on encouraged me to learn about my own anatomy and the various expressions of gender, sexuality, and bodily autonomy - I still have the copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves that she gave me when I was about 9 years old). I’ve lost count of the times that I’ve volunteered in small ways - helping clean up our neighbor’s yards when I was a student at Hamline University, spending time with elementary students who were learning to read, singing at nursing homes during the holidays with my Grandfather (who dressed up as Santa Claus), and teaching English for Open Door Learning Center, just to name a few. 

Now, as an adult, I’m a member of the Board at my synagogue - Mount Zion Temple - and I enjoy spending time trying to make our community one that younger people might find value in (which is not an easy task for a religious group). Growing up, my church would often send water to the border, and help out with people trying to immigrate to the USA who needed English lessons, a place to stay for a few days, or just a hot meal - and that has stayed with me. 

I could go on - I’m now a Software Engineer, and often coordinate Women in Tech events (either running them or helping my coworkers attend), where we discuss the importance of making STEM careers more appealing to everyone, especially people of color and young girls, and I’m VERY proud of this - but I think I’ll end it here, or I might keep going on for another 5 pages.

Miss Shamrock is someone who spreads Irish Spirit and Cheer throughout the year, not just during this season - and I think I could do an excellent job of that. When I was in college, I decided that no matter what, I was going to try and give a stranger a compliment once a day - trying to make someone’s day just a little better. I rode the bus quite often, and that gave me ample opportunities to do so; and it also meant that I had quite a few conversations with complete strangers that ended with a happy ‘Have a great day!’ and a smile. There’s enough bad news and sad things going on in the world - and sometimes it feels overwhelming to think about them all - but by trying to make someone else’s day just a little bit brighter, it can make a huge difference. That’s what I bring to the table - a lifetime of serving my community, and a dedication to continuing to help those around me.

What is the most memorable vacation you've taken?

My family is very close - we moved a lot while I was younger, and took a lot of road trips and camping trips. To be honest, it’s hard to pick just one - because we’ve done so much together. 

When I was younger, we lived in Arizona, and we were about 4 hours away from Puerto Peñasco, where there are several resort-hotels that you can spend time in. You can rent out a condo in those hotels, or rent out a house further down the beach, and we went for several years with our neighbors (my adopted family), and had amazing vacations with them. I can remember waking up, and hearing the sound of the ocean outside - being able to open the door and walk down to the surf and get my feet covered in the wet sand when the tide had ebbed away. One of my aunts (a biologist) would bring a baking sheet out, and would collect critters from a tidal pool for all the kids to see (I was the oldest, and there were always at least 7-8 kids on the trip, regardless of the year), and point out the intricacies of the patterns in the shells we’d find. We would rent kayaks and go out on clear days to paddle around - I even saw dolphins! And in the later years, someone would always bring a soccer ball to kick around. Every night a different family would make dinner, and so we were treated to everyone’s vacation favorites - and the adults would relax and laugh out under the sun shade on the beach. Those were fantastic trips, and now that my family lives in Minnesota we all reminisce about little moments together, and about how sunburned we each were by the end of each trip. I’m tearing up a bit, writing about these, because I can see my brothers and my nieces and nephews running around in my head - they’re all adults now, and I am so grateful for those memories with them.

What's the craziest thing you've ever done in your life?

Probably signing up to be a Shamrock Princess! No, in all seriousness, I think the craziest thing I’ve ever done was have a baby! Going through that process - from trying to get pregnant to pregnancy and watching my body go through some amazing changes while I grew a human was just incredible. And then I gave birth! I still can’t believe that women have been doing this forever, and that they continue to do it every day - it takes such a deep well of inner strength to go through that process, and I am grateful every day that I have such a large support network. Every time I look at my daughter, or I look down at my body (which is still changing - I’m trying to exercise more and get into better shape before she starts walking!) I can’t think of anything crazier and yet so mundane as having a baby! 

I also have travelled to a few different countries, and in at least one, I’ve danced on the tables in a bar with friends - but I couldn’t possibly explain all of the fun from those trips in a short paragraph.

If you could be in the movie of your choice, what movie would you choose and what character would you play?

AAAHHHHH I don’t know. I always wanted to be in the Harry Potter movies, and play Ginny Weasley or Hermione Granger - two fantastic female characters that I love to this day! But honestly, this is a ridiculously difficult question - I’d play any part in the HP universe.

What's a favorite family memory that has stuck with you?

Oh, so many - my family is very close, and I love spending time with them; so picking one memory is difficult! 

Every day when I was a kid, my family ate dinner at the table. It wasn’t always homemade food - sometimes it was frozen pizza, or takeout - but we always ate at the table. However, there was one exception to the rule - once in a blue moon, we would spread out a sheet on the floor, get our food together (and put out a cutting board or something to put our cups on if we were on carpet), and would settle in to watch TV together while we ate. For a few years, my dad would buy my mom a season of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ on DVD, and so we’d watch an episode together. After that, I was gifted a few seasons of ‘Friends’, and we watched through the entire series. And some nights, we’d just pick a movie, and when we were done eating, we’d pause to clean up and do dishes, and my parents would make popcorn for us or rootbeer floats, and we would watch the rest of the movie with the lights off. Now, as an adult, we quote movies and shows to each other all the time, and every time that happens I remember sitting together and having conversations with my parents. They worked hard to make sure that no matter how busy we were, or how tired they must have been, that we were together as a family at least once a day. 

What hobby would you get into if time and money weren’t an issue?

Oh, I’ve always wanted to do more physical activities - a couple years ago my New Year’s Resolution was to try a new physical activity each month, and I found quite a few that I’d be so excited to get more into! Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP), or SUP Yoga - so much fun - and I’ve loved doing aerial classes - there’s something so thrilling about knowing how you can literally swing through the air in silks! 

I also would love to volunteer more - I have a degree in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), and I used to volunteer with Open Doors Learning Centers (https://www.literacymn.org/learning-centers-0). Working with some of those students was very eye-opening, and I have tremendous respect for the people working to continue to learn at every age. As someone who’s been a book lover and a voracious reader from a young age, my love of language translated very well into teaching Beginning or Basic English.

What would your warning label say if every person was required to have one?

WARNING: This person is very genuine. She is blunt, clear, and things that being true to who you are is essential in living a happy and healthy life. That may result in deep friendships, passionate discussions, and a general feeling that this person will do anything for her friends. Additionally, she can swear like a sailor, loves sharing her love of learning, and enjoys crafting and making food - so her home is naturally a warm and inviting place that she likes to spend lots of time in. This person does suffer from occasional bouts of anxiety and depression, and may retreat into her safe space (her home) when feeling overwhelmed - but during these times she tries to share as much as is appropriate so as to try and remove the stigma from those two conditions. As a child of a doctor, she’s grown up in an environment of openness which has resulted in her being the go-to person for awkward questions that her friends are usually too embarrassed to ask - and a healthy ability to laugh at her own failings.

Zophia.JPG
Zophia

Zophia was born and raised in a suburb of Saint Paul. She attended the University of Minnesota and majored in Agriculture and works for Cargill as a Business Analyst. While in school, she studied abroad in Limerick, Ireland for a semester and was able to fully immerse herself in the Irish culture. In the summer you can find her at Irish cultural events, playing camogie, or frequenting one of the local Irish pubs. Zophia’s true passion is to share what it means to be proud of heritage and helping to bring the community together by making strong connections between people.

I grew up on tales of Ireland. As a child, my father would tell me stories, told to him by his father, about the country he grew up in before emigrating to the United States. They told me all they could about what it was to be Irish, and in no small way that helped shape my character, but no amount of stories is a substitute for experience. When I was 10 years old, I had shingles in my cornea and went blind in my left eye. Since then I have regained my vision, thankfully, but at the time it was devastating. But in a way, I was lucky, because I had the Irish Catholic community to fall back on. Everyone falls on hard times, everyone finds themselves needing hope at one point or another. This is what brought the idea of the Irish community to life for me, what really made it sink in. Now I am prepared to give back to these people, to be a face of hope for the Irish community. I believe that I could represent what it means to be Irish for the next year in a way that can continue to bring our great community together and between my hard work and the dedication of those I work alongside I truly believe we can keep spirits high and hope very much alive among our people.

What is the most memorable vacation you've taken?

  • The most memorable vacation I took was when I studied abroad in Ireland. Granted, I was studying while there, but between classes, I had the opportunity to tour the countryside and get to know where my family came from. I met one of my best friends in the entire world, OisÌn Watkins, while I was there and I can’t wait for the opportunity to go back. The part that made it memorable, besides the friends and landscapes, was the opportunity I had to discover myself. While living there I learned what it meant to be Irish, outside of the stereotypes and blarney. I was blessed with the opportunity to see true Irish pride, to cheer on the local Munster rugby team, to have a pint with my classmates at the pub on campus, and to walk in the rain for 100 days straight. When I was a kid I always listened to the stories from my grandparents but stepping where they stood and looking over a valley that they looked over changed how I view the world. I will never forget the feeling of my world clicking into place as I realized how important being Irish was to me. That is something I hope to be able to share with everyone who wants to be Irish, even if they’re Irish just for a day.

 

What's the craziest thing you've ever done in your life?

  • When I was 15 years old, my siblings, father, and I went scuba diving in Florida. That sounds fine and dandy, but we went scuba diving into a hole in a person’s back yard that opened into a several hundred-meter deep cave. This cave was incredible because it slanted to the side as we dove down which means that once we hit 110 meters deep and cut out our flashlights it was true 100% pitch black. Not only was it liberating to experience a complete absence of light while physically having the ability to see, but it was also suffocating. Even though I knew I was relatively safe with a divemaster watching over my family and I and a full tank of air on my back I felt true terror at the realization that in that exact moment I could die and no one would be able to get me to the surface fast enough to save me. There is something oddly uplifting about being crazy enough to look death in the face and say “not today”. I’ve taken that mentality and applied it to life by trying to find the joy in everything and not passing up an opportunity when it presents itself. Life is short and I want to enjoy every moment of it.

 

If you could be in the movie of your choice, what movie would you choose and what character would you play?

  • I would choose the movie Avatar and be the character Neytiri. I love the concept of bringing new people into a community and teaching them the traditions that make the people unique and strong. There is something so courageous about standing up for what you believe and fighting for it till the end. Plus it would be pretty neat to be super tall, have sweet ninja fighting skills, and be able to ride a giant dragon.

 

What's a favorite family memory that has stuck with you?

  • When I was 6 years old my family welcomed my eldest brother, Shaine, to the family. Shaine grew up down the road from us and his parents couldn’t take care of him. One day, he was biking down the road with no shirt or shoes and stopped in front of our house. My father was cooking burgers and Shaine smelled them. When my parents noticed him, they invited him in for dinner and he ate 6 burgers. That day, when he was 12, my parents offered him a bed in our house and he started living with us. My parents never legally adopted him because they always hoped that he would be able to resurrect a relationship with his biological parents. Last Mother’s Day, as a gift to my mom, Shaine gave the family papers that stated he had legally changed his last name from Dúnn to Raleigh and that my mom was finally a legal mother of 4 the way she always claimed to be. With the papers, he also gave her a glass heart with the names of us four kids engraved into it. I will never forget how impactful it was to finally have my brother share my surname. It was incredible to see my entire family cry while we welcomed my brother into the family for the first time as a legal member.


What hobby would you get into if time and money weren’t an issue? 

  • If time and money weren’t an issue, I would take up refurbishing vans. I love the idea of being able to live a nomad life, traveling the country/world, living sustainably, seeing new sights, trying new things and meeting new people. Refurbishing vans to help allow people to live that dream would be so rewarding and fun to live vicariously through them until I’m given a similar opportunity to live out that dream.


What would your warning label say if every person was required to have one?

  • WARNING: High energy, easily distracted by dogs, will try to get you to join in on a karaoke song. Proceed with caution: humor is sarcastic and often filled with dad jokes, serious head shaking may occur. If found alone in the pub, may try randomly talking to you about the first thing she thinks of. Please seek immediate medical attention if any of the following side effects occur: uncontrollable laughing, being handed a drink you are unsure of its contents, and shenanigans.
UA-90220702-1