Tina Chen chosen as Kent's Miss Cornucopia
By STEVE HUNTER
Kent Reporter Courts, government reporter
July 8, 2011 · 6:10 PM
Tina Chen didn't really like her odds to win the Miss Cornucopia title Friday afternoon in a ceremony at the Town Square Plaza at Kent Cornucopia Days.
But among Chen, Danielle (DJ) Taylor and Kelli Sheldon, Chen received the crown as the 2011 Miss Cornucopia to represent Kent at festivals throughout the year.
"I was very surprised," Chen said during an interview after the ceremony. "I did not come in here expecting to win. I felt like I did kind of iffy on the interview. And the other two girls I thought were terrific so I didn't think I was going to win. I think that they'd be just as great as representatives as I am."
Chen, 18, a 2010 Kent-Meridian High School graduate, is in her second year at the University of Washington as an economics major.
"I'm just really excited to be able to represent my community," Chen said. "I've always been engaged in Kent. I was brought up here. I interned for the mayor's office. I am interning for the Kent Chamber of Commerce right now."
Chen was born in Shanghai, China, and immigrated with her family to Kent when she was 11. She is the daughter of Sean and Claire Hu. Chen hopes to attend graduate school for public administration and then find a job in public policy.
"I think interning with the city as a junior in high school brought me here to know that I was interested in public policy," Chen said. "It helped me narrow my focus."
Chen who was a Miss Cornucopia princess in 2009, hopes to use the public administration focus to open up the possibility of a variety of jobs.
"It could be with government, health care policy making, economic development - it's pretty broad," Chen said. "I've always had this nonprofit orientation where I really like helping people and I want to know that what I'm doing with my life is able to make a positive impact on the community."
Kevin Simans, Chen's boyfriend from Bremerton, and several other friends showed up at the crowning to support her.
"They were all graduates of Kent-Meridian," Chen said.
Chen received a $3,000 college scholarship from the Kent Lions for winning the Miss Cornucopia title. She also received a $300 scholarship from the Kent Lions for winning the academic award and another $300 scholarship for winning the Community Service Award given by the Kent Police Employees Benevolent Association.
In the community, Chen helped organize a disaster relief benefit concert for Haiti by working with students from other Kent high schools. She also volunteered with the city of Kent Neighborhood Program, Kent4health and as a reading and math tutor.
Contestants were judged on the type of classes they take, community service involvement as well as interviews about Cornucopia Days.
Lauren Vermilion, the 2010 Miss Cornucopia, returned to present Chen with her crown. Vermilion is a 2010 Kentridge graduate and attended Western Washington University in Bellingham. She will transfer to Willamette University in Salem, Ore., to study environmental law.
"I'm really grateful for this opportunity," Vermilion said to a small audience about her role as Miss Cornucopia. "It's been a great year. I'm actually a little sad to pass off the crown but I'm excited for the winner."
Taylor and Sheldon will represent Kent as princesses. Each received a $500 college scholarship from the Kent Lions. Sheldon was named the royal princess and will serve as Miss Cornucopia if Chen cannot continue in the role.
Sheldon, 18, is a 2011 Kentridge High School graduate and the daughter of Craig and Margene Sheldon. She plans to attend Western Washington University and major in marine wildlife conservation. She is a square dancer, played in the school band and participated in solo and ensemble competitions. She volunteers at Purrfect Pals, a no-kill cat shelter based in Arlington.
Taylor, 19, is a 2009 Kentwood High School graduate, 2011 Green River Community College graduate and the daughter of Andy and Julie Taylor. She plans to pursue a nursing degree at the UW or Pacific Lutheran University (Tacoma). She volunteers and also works at Auburn Regional Medical Center. She wants to specialize in labor and delivery and neonatal intensive care.
Kent Cornucopia Days continue Saturday and Sunday in downtown Kent. Chen, Sheldon and Taylor will participate in the Cornucopia Days parade at 2 p.m. Sunday along Fourth Avenue.Contact Kent Reporter Courts, government reporter Steve Hunter at email@example.com or 253-872-6600, ext. 5052.