Rose Queen: Pasadena Teen Earns Crown

Vanessa Manjarrez, 17, attends Mayfield Senior School.

Vanessa Natalie Manjarrez ascended from princess to queen Tuesday, as the Pasadena Tournament of Roses chose her for the most coveted position on the Royal Court. 

The tournament selected the Mayfield Senior School teen from the seven princesses on the court, whittled from a group of 33 finalists. The Royal Court will attend more than 150 community and media functions leading up to the 124th Rose Parade on Jan. 1. 

“Our Rose Queen Vanessa Manjarrez and six Rose Princesses for 2013 are all outstanding young women who will represent the Tournament of Roses and the City of Pasadena with poise and confidence,” Tournament of Roses President Sally Bixby wrote in a prepared statement.

“They will be wonderful role models and I know they will inspire many young girls as they reign over the 124th Rose Parade and the 99th Rose Bowl Game.”

Manjarrez began her quest for the crown in September, when she and a group of some 900 young, Pasadena-area young women participated in rounds of interviews. Selections were based on a range of qualities including public speaking ability, poise, academic achievement, community involvement and personality.

The princesses who comprise the Royal Court are: 

  • Kathryne Alice Benuska, (#848), 17, Maranatha High School
  • Tracy Italia Cresta (#376), 17, La Salle High School
  • Victoria Sophia McGregor (#268), 17, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy
  • Nicole Cherie Nelam (#765), 17, Pasadena High School
  • Sonia Marie Shenoi (#451), 17, San Marino High School
  • Madison Michelle Barili Teodo (#222), 17, La Canada High School

Here is some background on each member of the court, as provided by the Tournament of Roses: 

Rose Queen Vanessa Natalie Manjarrez, 17, lives in Pasadena and attends Mayfield Senior School, where she is on the Diversity Committee and Advising Council.  She also participates in the Dance Conservatory and is involved with the National Charity League, the Pasadena Humane Society and Villa Esperanza. When in college, Vanessa hopes to study business and science – stem cell research and genetics are among her specific interests.  Her hobbies include traveling and volunteering. Vanessa’s parents are Maria Sarry and Armando Manjarrez.

Rose Princess Kathryne Alice Benuska, 17, lives in Altadena and attends Maranatha High School.  She is currently on the varsity volleyball team and coaches a team of younger girls in the sport, which she finds very rewarding.  Kathryne has been on a mission trip to Guatemala and she plans work internationally in a field to benefit those in need, after majoring in business and minoring in international relations. In her free time, she enjoys singing, reading, acting and doing soduko puzzles. Her parents are Kalmah and Carrie Benuska.  Kathryne has a brother, Luke, 19 and a sister, Ellie, 21.

Rose Princess Tracy Italia Cresta, 17, attends La Salle High School and resides in Pasadena. She is captain of the cross country and track and field teams, and is a member of the National Honor Society, the California Scholarship Federation, Student Ambassadors and the Physical Activity Club.  She plans to attend either San Diego State University or Loyola Marymount University.  Tracy hopes to become a lawyer and later, a judge.  She collects mermaids and enjoys numerous sports, especially running, swimming, diving, hiking and basketball. Her parents are Norberto and Ruth Cresta, and she has a brother, Burt, 16.

Rose Princess Victoria Sophia McGregor, 17, attends Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy and lives in Pasadena. She is president of the Science and Environment Club, and is a member of the National Honor Society and the California Scholarship Federation. Victoria is on the varsity tennis team and also competes in swimming.  She has been active in Girl Scouts and served as secretary of her school’s Business Club.  Victoria has learned Greek folk dancing and in her free time enjoys art and community service. Her parents are Richard and Kristen McGregor and she has a sister, Anastasia, 16.

Rose Princess Nicole Cherie Nelam, 17, lives in Pasadena and attends Pasadena High School.  She is a volunteer at her church and has participated in the Wiggle Waggle Walk benefiting the Pasadena Humane Society and SPCA.  Nicole plans to attend Pasadena City College and hopes to subsequently enroll at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  She is interested in studying nursing and medicine.  Her leisure time activities include reading, dancing, baking, fishing and camping.  Her parents are Yolanda Franklin and Michael Nelam and she has a sister, Victoria, 19.

Rose Princess Sonia Marie Shenoi, 17, lives in San Marino and attends San Marino High School. She volunteers in the pediatrics department at Huntington Memorial Hospital, and is active in the Red Cross Club and ACTS Christian Club. She recently earned her Girl Scout Gold Award and is a senior Ambassador Girl Scout. Sonia loves working with children and hopes to work in the pediatric field.  She enjoys playing the piano and saxophone, as well as traveling, sampling exotic cuisines and baking. Her parents are Allan and Lalita Shenoi.  She has a sister, Anita, 14 and a brother, Tommy, 10.

Rose Princess Madison Michelle Barili Teodo, 17, lives in La Canada and attends La Canada High School.  She is captain of her school’s varsity volleyball team and president of the concert choir. Madison is member of the National Honor Society and the California Scholarship Federation.  She is Girl Scouts Gold Award recipient, and was a banner carrier in the 2012 Rose Parade. She currently volunteers at Verdugo Hills Hospital.  Madison would like to be an elementary school teacher with an emphasis on speech therapy.  Her parents are Mark and Cinda Teodo and she has two sisters, Megan, 24, and Molly, 21.

A Penland October 16, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Sadly, this is the kind of world we are living in where this is considered breaking news. Right up there with the Kardashians...Idiocracy anyone?
Linda Park October 16, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Yes, it is worthy of being tagged as breaking news. What a nice group of young ladies. Congratulations to the Royal Court! Actually, it's quite refreshing to receive breaking news that is positive and pleasant! :)
abc October 16, 2012 at 06:19 PM
yea....I'm in Atlanta and EVERYONE here does NOT know what the Rose Parade is, let alone the Rose Court. For them, Pasadena is about Caltech and JPL. Honestly, its just the Rose Court; for them to pick 7 out of a thousand by "under 1 minute interviews" is kind of unfair. Things like "Prom Queen", "Rose Courts", and other beauty pageants are so outdated, and don't reflect true accomplishment. For yesterday's women, these titles could be the biggest thing they accomplished in their lives before domestic life with kids. I hope these seven exploit their new titles on their college applications as much as they can.
abc October 16, 2012 at 06:20 PM
yea....I'm in Atlanta and EVERYONE here does NOT know what the Rose Parade is, let alone the Rose Court. For them, Pasadena is about Caltech and JPL. Honestly, its just the Rose Court; for them to pick 7 out of a thousand by "under 1 minute interviews" is kind of unfair. Things like "Prom Queen", "Rose Courts", and other beauty pageants are so outdated, and don't reflect true accomplishment. For yesterday's women, these titles could be the biggest thing they accomplished in their lives before domestic life with kids. I hope these seven exploit their new titles on their college applications as much as they can.
Linda Park October 16, 2012 at 06:29 PM
No one is forcing you to read the article. But if you did, you might learn a thing or two from the Royal Court. What does your bio look like?
jl October 16, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Don't you guys think you're being a little too sour about this? yes, it is "breaking news"-because it's local news. Also, these girls are a far cry from the Kardashians. They all have done a lot of community service, charity work, etc. and are chosen to represent the Pasadena(and Altadena) area to the world via the Rose Parade. Insulting them is totally uncalled for. Surely there's plenty else to pick on, eh?
The Teller October 16, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Congratulations to Vanessa, on being selected Rose Queen. Thank you Patch for getting the news out. It is nice to hear the good news about our youth in Pasadena. By the way, Breaking News does not always have to be about doom and gloom.
Donna Evans (Editor) October 16, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Interesting comparison, @A Penland: the Kardashians with local high school girls who will serve their community for the next year.
Lorraine Pozniak October 16, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Yes, it is breaking news...I watched it live on KTLA 5. Rose Princess Kathryne Alice Benuska is from Altadena. Altadena can all be proud of her representing the area no matter where she goes. This is not just a beauty pageant. These young ladies are chosen on the basis of academic excellence and civic duty, as well. If anyone doesn't want to read about nice things that are going on in the community, don't read it. Nobody's holding a gun to your head. Or would you rather read about that?
abc October 16, 2012 at 07:06 PM
trust me, ive accomplished much bigger things. to start im not even a girl, so i cant really compare to them.....what happened to encouraging women to become astronauts and engineers? i bet that wouldn't be "graceful" or "pretty" enough for the Rose Court. Wake me up when they have the courage to have a lesbian on the court
jl October 16, 2012 at 07:15 PM
"abc", I'm pretty sure that you're simply trolling(for a start, why are you bothering with this story on Altadena patch if you're in Atlanta?), but what the hey: Good for you that you've accomnplished "much bigger things". How old are you? These are high schoolers. ALL already have an extensive record of service. That's excellent for girls under 18 to have-or guys, of course. As they also must be academically top-notch to qualify as Rose Court possibilities, they all have the kinds of grades that I'm sure mean they may well become engineers and astronauts--or anything else they set their sights on. Maybe even-gasp!-a so-called "stay at home" mom. What's wrong with that? Who's to judge? And how the hell do you know if the sexual orientation of any of them? Or don't any of them fit your particular stereotype for what a straight or gay person looks like? Give it a rest. This is a story on a local blog about a local tradition, much cherished by LOCALS. That's all it is.
Andrea Rose October 16, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Donna, it's not an interesting comparison, it's idiotic. It's a shame, it was only a matter of time before the comments on an article about a young lady getting recognized turned into a forum for people who want to stand on an Internet soapbox about the destruction of society or generally try to sound like those bitter old farts on the Muppets. Give it a rest and get over yourself. These ladies don't deserve scorn. If there's any lesson the young queen can take away from this, it's that people are going to hate anonymously no matter what she does. Congratulations to her, and I wish her well.
Andrea Rose October 16, 2012 at 07:24 PM
I also like how the people complaining about the validity of "breaking news" still saw the alert, clicked on and read the article, then took the trouble use the comments section to sign in and complain about it. So radical! Fight the power!
abc October 16, 2012 at 07:30 PM
i am a local. im from pasadena and i went to poly, but im in atlanta for college so ktfo. im the same age as these young women. and yes its a local thing, ive seen this for my whole life, but definitely not breaking news. im not hating on any of these girls, im sure they are all very intelligent and passionate for their causes, its just being on the rose court is a bit of a dated tradition, thats all. and really...would tradition dare pick a LGBT person in these modern times?
Greg Hiscott October 16, 2012 at 08:45 PM
abc: How do you know that they have not already had a LGBT on the court in the past? It does not matter and should not be a subject of discussion. It is a private matter for the person serving in the capacity of rose court princess. You are just a big megaphone trying to gain attention for yourself. In January, you will be freezing your can off and we will be enjoying a rockin parade and have been doing so for a long long time.
doris finch October 16, 2012 at 08:47 PM
For those whose knickers are in a knot about whether this should be breaking news: This is the ALTADENA Patch, so when locals achieve, do anything notable [good or bad], or pass on, yes, it is community breaking news. That is why we have not one, but two local blogs. I surely can't believe you are looking on these spots for your national and international news.
Leslie Aitken October 16, 2012 at 09:02 PM
I would like to clarify something. Every year there are up to 1000 or more hopefuls who try out. The first elimination is done with a photo and a 15 second interview. The top 250 are decided on anonymously by looks and 15 seconds. The next cut is down to 75, then 30. After that, background, grades, community service and character attributes are considered. Before that -- it is mostly what the judges see. I am sure that there are MANY wonderful girls every year that don't make the cut....and it is first and foremost decided by presentation and appearance.
Melissa M. October 16, 2012 at 09:32 PM
It's considered breaking news for Pasadena and this is the South Pasadena Patch. If you don't like it? Simply don't click and read it. This is why articles has titles. Congrats to Vanessa for her accomplishment and to ALL of the girls who applied in the first place. To know that 1000 girls even had the community service background is refreshing to know in this day and age. And if "abc" took the time to read the bios of these girls? He would know that more than one have opted to enter the field of Science. The Queen will be studying Stem Cell Research and Genetics in college. So this isn't based on a Kardashianesque basis. Breaking news should be good news as well as the doom and gloom. Good job Patch!
Lisa Maiorana October 16, 2012 at 09:45 PM
It's "DECIDED" by where these young ladies go to school & who their parents are...the fact that many of them go to Mayfield and it costs thousands of dollars a year to go there is ONE reason. Whoever thinks that this decision is random is really living under a rock.
Rico X Ludovici October 16, 2012 at 10:02 PM
I gotta laugh. First off, they all have to have superior grades because they will be missing a lot of school during the year. Second off, they all volunteered for the job. My son has dated at least two Queen candidates. One of them got an architecture degree from SLO. Maybe they should get the eye candy from Cal Poly, where it's said that for single women "the odds are good but the goods are odd." I thinks it's goes both ways. If you don't like this kind of community news, read the Compton Patch.
Revvell October 16, 2012 at 10:10 PM
First of all, how do you know they don't have a lesbian on the Court? Did you read their bios? One wants to be a lawyer and later a judge; a few want to work in medicine and some are already volunteering at hospitals; one is majoring in business and international relations.... What's the real issue you're having here mr. "I'm not even a girl?" When I was it Ct., the Rose Parade was a pretty big thing. We enjoyed seeing the sun and the weather of SoCal. while we were cold and wet. *shrugs* Dunno what your sour grapes attitude is about and, now that I think about it... don't really care. Enjoy 'em.
Leslie Aitken October 16, 2012 at 10:44 PM
Lisa -- I must admit that I have noticed the socioeconomic demographic of each year's Rose Court is SO skewed! And even though it is "supposed" to be random, it does make one wonder. This pretty much says it all: Rose Queen -- Mayfield School -- Private School (#848), 17, Maranatha High School -- Private School (#376), 17, La Salle High School -- Private School (#268), 17, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy -- Private School (#765), 17, Pasadena High School -- Pasadena Unified School District (#451), 17, San Marino High School, "Public" School (if you have the $ to live in San Marino) (#222), 17, La Canada High School --"Public" School (if you have the $ to live in La Canada) R Random? Every year?
Lisa Maiorana October 17, 2012 at 01:15 AM
It's not about that - it's about YET AGAIN, young rich children with all the advantages that our children DO NOT have. I worked for very wealthy for many years and I've been instructed the ways in which these people live. I respect it and understand it just please know that we are and never will be a part of this society and it is meant to be this way for a reason.
Revvell October 17, 2012 at 01:45 AM
Runner2you October 17, 2012 at 01:21 PM
Umm..I didn't think this was "Breaking News" either. Is it nice, fluffy local news? Sure. But when the "Breaking News" alert came to my email. I was annoyed. But,hey, this is Patch stuff. And,yes, I'm local. I didn't realize the pool skewed rich. Patch should do a story on that.
Gary Edwards October 17, 2012 at 06:13 PM
i get annoyed w/ breaking news stories/emails about hikers being rescued. couldn't care less. millions watch the rose parade. choosing a rose queen/court is the start. breaking news shouldn't just be "bad" news.
Susan October 18, 2012 at 05:38 AM
Sorry folks but the tournament of roses picks intelligent and polished girls who represent a charitable organization. They must be able to speak comfortably in front of mostly adults. Class and manners do still apply to some people in this country.
RT October 19, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Wow, who knew there were so many Patch haters?
Donna Evans (Editor) October 19, 2012 at 04:57 PM
@RT hahaha - welcome to online journalism. haters are everywhere!
RT October 19, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Well I'm not one of them Donna! Keep up the good work. The selection of the Tournament of Roses Queen and her court is a local tradition for many of us and the fact that the Rose Parade, including the Queen and her court, is seen on tv by millions worldwide, makes it a national event like it or not.


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