Music brings out the best in Candy Chang, and helping others is her favorite tune.
An outstanding student and poised musician, the 18-year-old Kent woman is comfortable on stage. She also feels right at home in making a difference in her community.
Chang’s full body of work – from academics and public speaking to community service and other commitments – convinced the Kent Lions to select her as Miss Cornucopia in a ceremony Friday afternoon at Town Square Plaza.
“I was shocked,” Chang said, moments after receiving the crown and a $3,000 scholarship from the Kent Lions Club. “There’s some great girls this year, definitely. I’m so honored to represent this group and to be a part of this wonderful organization that does so much for not just the people in need, but also regular families and the communities of Kent.”
Chang prevailed in a tight contest with two other finalists – Kent’s Jennifer Ciriaco and Mary Fullen. Both will serve as princesses, with each receiving $500 scholarships from the Kent Lions Foundation.
Chang, the daughter of Peter and Zong Chang, represents Kent in Sunday’s Cornucopia Days Grand Parade, and plans to make several public appearances throughout the year, including Kent Winterfest.
Chang, who was chosen Cornucopia Royal Princess in last year’s contest, also received a pair of $250 scholarship awards from the foundation for academics and community service.
She will put the money to good use as she prepares for her second year at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, one of the most competitive and the oldest continuously operating conservatory in the country, located in Ohio, 35 miles southwest of Cleveland.
Chang, a 2012 Kentridge High School graduate, is pursuing a degree in music, specifically in flute performance. She welcomes the demanding load of music and liberal arts classes at the school.
She has maintained straight A’s in the classroom since the seventh grade.
Inspired by her mom, Chang has played music all her life, beginning with the piano at age 4. She has played the flute for 10 years.
“My mom, she is my inspiration,” Chang said.
“I hope to perform my entire life and teach,” she added. “My mom was a music teacher.”
Chang also enjoys baking and spending time with family and friends.
Ultimately, she wants to make an impact in the lives of others, not just through her music.
“My ultimate dream is to bring all communities together and for everyone to help each other,” she said.
Ciriaco, 19, daughter of Leonard and Jeanette Ciriaco, is a Kentridge graduate and sophomore-to-be at Seattle Pacific University, where she is studying fashion merchandising.
Fullen, 17, daughter of Donna and John Fullen, attends Kentlake High.
Participants in the Miss Cornucopia Scholarship Pageant showcase their talents through academics, creative expression, public speaking, community service and participation in many Seafair events.
Kent Cornucopia Days continues Saturday and Sunday in downtown Kent. The parade begins at 2 p.m. Sunday along Fourth Avenue.
Kent’s Mary Fullen, left, and Jennifer Ciriaco will serve as Cornucopia princesses.
MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter