Q&A with 2018 Ohio Rose Erin Stefancin

We asked 2018 Ohio Rose Erin Stefancin to describe her year as the Ohio Rose. Read her responses below:

Erin, everyone describes the Rose of Tralee as a whirlwind experience, what was it like for you?

I am so incredibly blessed and honored to represent Ohio in the Rose of Tralee International Festival as the 2018 Ohio Rose. I had the pleasure of being a part of the Festival alongside 56 ambitious, intellectual, and modern women of proud Irish heritage. I had countless incredible experiences including seeing the wonder of “The Dome” in Tralee, feeling the warm welcome of County Kilkenny and County Kerry, seeing the majestic views of the Ring of Kerry, meeting remarkable Irish people, learning falconry and catching a hawk on my arm, and meeting my wonderful rosebud, Alice, and her family.

How did you handle the pressure of representing Ohio in Ireland?

It has been a whirlwind experience after being selected on a cold February night, and I am so thankful for the support I have received from the beginning. From my family members that travelled across the pond to Ireland to support me and my Irish family from Cong in Co. Mayo, who supported me with signs, shirts, and buttons. I cannot express my gratitude of looking out into a crowd of people and seeing my proud Ohio family.

What is it like to be the Ohio Rose in Ohio?

My family and the Irish community in Cleveland has been so supportive in my journey. I have been so welcomed at many events including the Mayo Society Tea, appearances on the Gerry Quinn Irish Radio Show, marching in the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, the Cleveland Irish Festival, and at every turn I met people from all over wishing me the best of luck in my journey, including Patrick Murphy of Gaelic Storm!

In addition to my family and the Irish Community, I need to give a special thank you to Gormley’s pub in Rocky River for their support during my Ohio selections and over in Ireland and to the 2017 Ohio Rose, Meghan Adams and for the amazing team at the Ohio Rose Centre, Denise, Mike, and Ashley. Finally, thank you to the Irish community of Cleveland for their support in my journey and the many well wishes I have received.

Each year, the Ohio Rose Centre donate to a charity on behalf of the current Rose. What charity did you choose?

I donated the $1,000 to Youth Challenge in Westlake, OH, a cause which I am very passionate about. Youth Challenge is an amazing organization that brings together children with physical disabilities and local teenagers in the greater Cleveland area in play various adapted sports and activities. I began volunteering there when I was 13 years old, and it has remained a passion in my life ever since! Volunteering at Youth Challenge is where I met a graduate student studying Speech-Language Pathology, which was a career I had never considered. Now, I am in my 2nd year at Ohio State’s Speech-Language Pathology Master’s program thanks to the wonderful experiences and the wonderful people that I met met though Youth Challange.

As your year comes to a close, what are you taking away from this experience?

This unforgettable experience took me to parts of Ireland, including Dublin, Kildare, and Kerry, that I have never been before, and I got to explore these beautiful parts of Ireland with wonderful people by my side. I have many couches to crash on when visiting Germany, Ireland, Australia, Canada, England and all over the United States. It has also been an amazing experience to spread my Irish Heritage through philanthropy. I look forward to completing my year as the 2018 Ohio Rose and welcoming in future rose classes for years to come!

Erin gazes in awe at the magic of the Rose Ball.

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