Tea with the Tulip Queen

Tea with the tulip queen.JPG

Pinkie extended, of course.

Sure, it's easy to get a little snarky about the Tulip Queen. But it gets harder when you meet the actual Tulip Queen -- and she's a really lovely person with good intentions and a sense of humor about her royal self.

Juliana Hernandez, this year's Tulip Queen, is all of those things.

She's bright, positive, energetic. She's somebody you'd probably like to hang out with. Just don't try to friend her on Facebook if you don't know her.

Queen Juliana granted AOA an audience earlier this week for a chat about the paparazzi, the Tulip King, her new job and the weight of the tulip crown.

So has the burden of the crown set in yet?

(Laughs) There's definitely no burden with this job -- just an open door of opportunity. I feel a sense of power because there's so much I can do.

The tulip court works on literacy programs. We want to go to Albany High school and really help students succeed and try not to drop out. They have a 40 percent drop out rate.

I presented four literacy initiatives in my campaign. They were things like helping kids who don't speak English yet to be proud of coming from another country, getting kids to teach you something -- even if it's something little like drawing a heart -- so they feel like they know something. I also proposed a program that would bring parents and kids together in a nice setting and help develop a curriculum that parents could teach kids. I also proposed a program that would include animals -- because animals, even just a turtle, can help calm kids.

The court comes out with one literacy program, but we can do a whole bunch of other things as well.

tulip court.jpg

So, really, why did you want to be Tulip Queen?

The honest answer would be to further my career. I was graduating and I really didn't know what I wanted to do next. I was thinking "well I'm going into public communications but where do I really want to go from here?"

I enjoy community service. I studied abroad in Costa Rica for a year in college and volunteered with children there. I got a global sense of volunteerism and community service.

With this Tulip Queen position I realized I can do something big in my own community. My imagination is just growing. I'm thinking how much can I do in just a year. People want to donate to our programs and with that money we can actually make a change for these children and help them become more successful.

Is this something you've always thought of yourself doing someday?

No. I mean I've lived in the Capital Region my whole life -- I went to Shaker High and Saint Rose. And I've always known about the Tulip Queen, but I never thought I would apply for it. I thought it was more of a pageant thing.

But a friend of mine was Tulip Queen back in 2008 and she really wanted me to do it. She said I'd really enjoy it and that it was the best year of her life. She wanted me to apply last year but I still wasn't sure. This year my mom was like "I don't care -- I'm nominating you."

The judges wanted to know how much community service you had done and what you were planning to do for Albany in the next year. It's not a beauty pageant.

Still, you can't help but notice that the Tulip Queens and their courts are usually very attractive.

But even all the girls who were at the tea party (early in the selection process) were, so I think it's just who gets nominated and who actually wants to do it.

So it's a little bit self-selecting?

Right, because at the tea party there were 15 of us, and I was thinking that all of us are very beautiful girls inside and out.

tulip queen a.JPG

So do you worry about the paparazzi? Can you go to Crossgates in a baseball cap and sweats?

Hahaha... so far I've only dealt with one person recognizing me -- but I had actually spoken to her and her daughter once. Then I was at PF Chang with my boyfriend and she came up to me and said, "Oh, I remember you -- you're the Tulip Queen." And I was kind of like, "Oh, wow I'm being recognized. I've got to always remember people might know me!"

But when we were selected they gave the five of us the speech and said, "Hey, people might be looking at your Facebook and My Space so just bear that in mind." I never really had anything bad on there anyway, but I also don't want people in my business either so I made everything private.

Are you getting more Facebook requests?

I've gotten some, yes. Some people have Facebooked me and I'm like "I don t even know who this person is." So I'm always denying people -- unless i know ya. (laughs) Especially boys.

So how is your boyfriend taking all this new attention?

You know, I feel a little bad for him because everybody is calling him the Tulip King. He's like "What did you get me into?" (laughs) but he's really really proud of me and supports me.

tulip queen b.jpg

Have you taken a little teasing from your family and friends?

It's more from my boyfriend's friends. Whenever I go out with them it's like "the queen is here" and that kind of stuff. I just laugh.

You just started, but so far has it changed anything for you?

It's changed a little bit of what I want to do. Before I thought I wanted to be a journalist or I wanted to travel. But I'm thinking more about education now -- maybe being a principal or really going and being a leader in my community or politician to help kids in my community that are living in poverty.

Ask me that question next May and I'll probably have a better answer.


What an impressive ambassador for our city!

What a striking contast to our legislators!

What a different kind of pretty girl from the Paris Hilton contestant from Saratoga!

Never really knew what the Tulip Queen did, but I have to say, I like what she has to say and what she wants to do. Good luck! Sounds like a fantastic role model to me. Someone nominate her for mayor. Or better yet, Majority Leader!

I had the pleasure of working with Juliana, and she is as impressive in person as she sounds in this interview: smart, funny and caring. Good luck and have fun Juliana!

Juliana Hernandez is the "PRIDE" of all the Hispanics in the Capital District. Her gracios and pleasant personality is felt whenever you're around her. She is bright, ambitious, compassionate, and hard working. These unique traits will pave the path for a successful future!
Congratulations and best wishes !

You Go Girl! We love you!!!


Congratulations Juliana, We are very proud of you, You are very smart, you have a lot of nice things you want to do ahead of you and we know that you are going to achieve it all. We know you since you was a little girl. Always gracious, smart and kind.

Best wishes, We love you, and hope to see you soon here in Florida.

Juanita and family.

Congrats Juliana! Keep up the good work! Proud of you!!
Represent girl Represent!

Good for her! She is a great role model to young girls in the Capital Region.

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