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Rarmal crowned Miss Cornucopia
Even if dragon boats are a part of Mithula Rarmal's culture, she has never been near one of the elegant vessels.
That changes in a big way this weekend.
As the newly-crowned Miss Cornucopia, Rarmal, 18, at last gets to watch the boats up close and personal as they glide along Lake Meridian.
And that's just one of the many festivities planned for the 43rd Kent Cornucopia Days.
"I'm excited about that," Rarmal said upon receiving the tiara and a $2,500 scholarship from the Kent Lions Club, on a sun-spangled Friday afternoon at Town Square Plaza.
A surprised Rarmal accepted the crown from past queen Candy Chang, moments after besting three other Kent contestants in a close competition.
"I'm totally excited. I never thought I would win," Rarmal said as she received congratulations. "Just looking at the girls, they are all so talented. This means a lot. It blows my mind, how much I didn't know about Kent until I got (to this point)."
Born in Oman and raised in the Middle East, Rarmal came to the United States with her family seven years ago. While English is her first language, she also speaks Hindi and Malalayalam.
Bright, energetic, determined, Rarmal excelled in and out of the classroom. This June she graduated with honors from Kentridge High School, where she had immersed herself in the National Honor Society, the Multicultural Club, the Key Club, advanced orchestra and the varsity tennis team.
Oh, and she put in more than 100 honors of community work, volunteering at Northwest Harvest and helping city leaders build a new park.
She plans to attend the University of Washington this fall to study computer engineering.
One day, Rarmal said, she would like to "work for Microsoft or something" in engineering.
Rarmal, the younger daughter of Lakshman Kambrath and Vilasini Rarmal, represents Kent in Sunday's Cornucopia Days Grand Parade, and plans to make several public appearances throughout the year.
And, a program first, judges chose a young man, Tyler Wald, to be Cornucopia Royal Ambassador, joining on the regal court Royal Princess Kristy (Soo Jung) Kwon and princesses Sean Emily Taylor and Araceli Rios.
Wald, 18, who graduated from Kentridge with honors, excelled there in baseball and community service. He hosted a talent show for the American Heart Association and organized a drive that collected more than 1,000 pieces of baseball equipment for the Boys & Girls Clubs.
Wald's senior class even voted him, "Most likely to brighten your day."
Wald didn't balk at the opportunity to break the gender barrier and become a part of the Cornucopia Days royalty.
"It looked like fun," he said, "and I wanted to get more involved in the community."
Wald, son of Neil and Lisa Wald, plans to study business at Western Washington this fall. For his efforts, Wald receives a $2,500 scholarship from the Kent Lions Foundation.
Kwon, Taylor and Rios will receive scholarships, too.
Kwon, 18, a Kentridge graduate, will join the UW honors program this fall. She plans to study international relations and communications.
Taylor, 18, a Kentlake graduate, will attend Southern Connecticut State University on a volleyball scholarship. She wants to major in computer science and business.
Rios, 18, a Kent-Meridian graduate, will attend Central Washington University.
Participants in the Miss Cornucopia Scholarship Program showcase their talents through academics, creative expression, public speaking, community service and participation in many events.
Kent Cornucopia Days continues Saturday and Sunday in downtown Kent. The parade is at 2 p.m. Sunday along Fourth Avenue.
Kent's Tyler Wald is crowned Cornucopia Royal Ambassador by 2013 Miss Cornucopia Candy Chang on Friday. Mark Klaas, Kent Reporter