Princess Emboldened by Royal Turn

“Oh, man,” said Natalie Petrosian, suddenly struck by inspiration to use her platform as a member of the 2017 Tournament of Roses Royal Court to issue a public service announcement. “Can I tell you the biggest lesson that I’ve taken away from this experience?”
Of course. When you’re one of seven young ladies selected from close to 1,000 applicants to serve as an ambassador for the Tournament of Roses, people want to hear from you.
So Petrosian delivered: “Don’t listen to that little voice inside your head that says you can’t do something. There’s a mental block that your head sometimes creates, that says, ‘No, just don’t do it.’ But after this experience, I’ve learned to look past that, to take risks, to go outside of your comfort zone because you never know what life has in store for you.”
It might even be Rose Court royalty.
Petrosian, 18, is a senior at La Cañada High School. She’s been a member of the girls’ tennis team since she was a freshman. Her goals include attending Caltech and launching a career in genetics. She’s developed a passionate interest in politics.
And she did not consider herself princess material.
Petrosian has learned something else, too: “Mother knows best.” It was only with some strong encouragement from her mom, Rebecca Nash, that Petrosian joined the parade of young Pasadena-area women interviewing for a spot.
Even her tennis coach, Will Moravec, said he expected the selection process would more closely resemble a popularity contest than a job interview, so he didn’t expect to lose one of his standout singles players for the season.
He was pleasantly surprised, he said, to see that the Rose Court selection committee saw in Petrosian what he did — even if it meant she was able only to attend a few practices and the team banquet.
“A lot of teenagers, you start to talk to them and they wander off and start thinking about their iPhones or this and that,” Moravec said. “But she’s mature enough that when you sit down to talk to her, she’s really talking to you.”
But Petrosian didn’t imagine she’d impress the selection committee.
“I was terrified that I would have to interview in front of a panel of judges,” she said. “But I did it, and I really enjoyed it. Once I sat down in that room and I started talking, the fear just went away.”
Almost four months later, any anxiety is long gone. Petrosian has become a polished speaker, hitting all the right notes, including dutifully referring to her new friends by their proper Rose Court names: “I had lunch with Princess Maya the other day.”
The style points piling up, Princess Natalie has plenty of substantive observations to offer. She believes the pressure experienced by high school students competing for college acceptance is too much: “There are many long nights, everyone’s taking APs and honors and it’s not really healthy.”
“But,” she advised, “I’ve learned to take classes that are interesting to me or in a subject matter that I want to improve at. I took AP English last year because I wanted to be a really good writer, and I wanted to be better at argumentation, which is exactly what I got out of that class.”
She also appreciates how crucial her teachers’ cooperation has been.
“If they do not cooperate, it could be very devastating,” she said. “Lucky for me, at La Cañada, they’ve had princesses and queens before and so they know the drill.”
Together, the Rose Court’s drill has included visits to hospitals, schools, retirement homes and a long, long list of luncheons. It’ll all add up to more than 100 functions. And as much as Petrosian is looking forward to Jan. 2 — the Rose Parade’s “Never on Sunday” rule will move it to Monday — she regrets that it’s almost over.
“I just couldn’t have dreamed or imagined how wonderful this was going to be,” said Nash, who’s welcomed feedback from the Queen and Court Committee. “They’ll say, ‘Natalie knocked it out of the park. She’s just so natural and she answered everything honestly and graciously.’
“And, you know, I knew she had it in there.’”

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