Keyah (Adams) Freeman
If you were to meet with someone to recommend the experience, what would you say?
Do it!! It will change your life. I used to be very shy, horrible with speaking in front of anyone, and I was never really involved with anything outside of work and school. Now I’m on a committee with the Hopkins Raspberry Royalty, speak easily in front of others, met people who later on were a part of my wedding, involved with other Royalty programs, and so so much more! I give thanks to the program for changing me into a better version of myself.
What did you learn about leadership and community involvement?
I learned how to be a better leader and listener when it came to a group setting. I was in college when I was a princess so learning that was a huge plus. As someone who didn’t live in Hopkins at the time I learned more about the community and what people needs are beside my own. I still am involved with a few of the places we volunteered at as well as branched into other community involvement opportunities. It gave me want and need to be involved in the community I live in.
What were your fears when you decided to participate? What happened instead?
I’d have to say my fears were that this was a beauty pageant and at the time I first ran, I was a mega tomboy. I learned that this program was a growing opportunity instead. I worked on my networking and public speaking skills as well how to present my authentic self to people I may not know.

 

Sophrona LaVasseur

If you were to meet with someone to recommend the experience, what would you say?
I would say “absolutely, 100% DO IT!” It doesn’t matter what the outcome is, you will walk away having learned at least one thing that you can use in every day life!! I know everyone wants to be crowned, but not everyone can be; that doesn’t mean that you haven’t gained something valuable or that you aren’t valuable as a person, it just means that you can represent your city and community in a different and unique way!!
What did you learn about leadership and community involvement?
I learned that anyone and everyone can be involved in their community! You don’t have to be a board member, ambassador, or business owner to help your community flourish and develop! The raspberry royalty program helped me step up and develop leadership skills that I had no idea how to use prior to this experience. I have always been more of a leader but this program helped me to fine tune those skills and apply them in many different areas. 
What were your fears when you decided to participate? What happened instead?
I was most afraid of going into a program that seemed tight knit and not knowing anyone ahead of time. All of the girls I ran with during candidacy had some personal connection to each other, or to the festival already and I was the only one who didn’t have that going for me! I quickly found out that knowing people didn’t matter as long as I was willing to put myself out there and get to know people no matter if there was a prior connection or not! I ended up creating new connections that I still have today, and I’m so glad that I didn’t let my fear of being alone, at the beginning, keep me from continuing my Raspberry journey!

 

Aubree Yunker

If you were to meet with someone to recommend the experience, what would you say?
I would say, “Take a chance! Give it a try. It is nothing like you have ever experienced before and it’s really hard to explain to someone. It is more than just being Royalty. It is about personal growth, giving back, and making incredible connections with people. This is an experience that you cannot get anywhere else and it helps shape another sparkly facet of you!”
What did you learn about leadership and community involvement?
I learned that a leader can look different depending on the situation. Throughout our candidacy, I felt that there were many leaders and each of us had different qualities that shined at different times. Leadership isn’t just made up of one quality, but many. The quality of service to others connects leadership with great community of Hopkins. I so much appreciated the ways that we were connected with the community and could practice putting others before self. My heart grew for giving back and it became a continuous part of my life that I can’t imagine being without. The smiles you get from helping someone in the community are priceless and boosted my confidence as a leader.
What were your fears when you decided to participate? What happened instead?
My fears when I decided to get involved with Raspberry Royalty were immediately “What will my friends think?!” I was a total athlete and this did not seem to be in my wheelhouse. I will admit, it was a little uncomfortable to get use to the idea myself, but I always loved seeing the Royalty at the Raspberry Festival. I was even a Raspberry Princess for Halloween when I was little. I wanted to be connected to this community through the Festival and loved the confidence the Royalty always had when I saw them. I still shyed away from talking about it with my friends, but my true and closest friends were very, very supportive. They came to Coronation and helped me pack and unpack my car every time I came to or from events. I don’t think they really grasped what this program was all about, but they saw me grow and form a new element of my personality. It made me a more well-rounded person with new perspectives. I felt good about knowing how to carry myself in many different situations and my confidence to handle those situations grew too. And sometimes even athletes want to dress up, feel good, and sparkle with more than just sweat.