The finalists for Tulip Queen of the 65th annual Albany Tulip Festival have been announced.
They include three young women from Albany, one from Watervliet and one from Slingerlands.
About 70 nominations were received, and each eligible candidate was interviewed by the Tulip Queen & Court Selection Committee, a panel of judges from the community which includes prior Tulip Queen & Court members.
Based on the interviews, 12 semifinalists were chosen to attend the Tulip Tea. At the Tea, the women were judged based on their interaction with their fellow semifinalists and the committee. After a final interview with each semifinalist, five finalists were chosen.
The Tulip Queen will be announced at the coronation at the Tulip Festival at noon on Saturday, May 11, in Washington Park.
All five women will work together throughout the year to develop initiatives to promote literacy in the Capital Region.
“I am proud to have these five remarkable young women represent our city over the next year,” said Mayor Jerry Jennings. “They each possess an inspiring commitment to the Albany community, and I look forward to working with them as they develop new programs for the Mayor’s Literacy Campaign.”
The finalists are:
• Kate Bender, 18, Slingerlands
Bender is a freshman business major at Siena College. Through the Siena Bonner Service Leaders Program, she works as a recruitment and outreach intern for the Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York. She helps teach English to local refugee students and volunteers as a Girl Scout leader. Bender is a co-host of WVCR’s "Change Makers" radio program and is a volunteer with the American Cancer Association, the Teresian House and Refugees & Immigrant Support Services of Emmaus. She is a part of the Siena College dance team and loves to spend time with her friends and family.
• Meghan Cahill, 19, Albany
Cahill attends the College of Saint Rose, majoring in social work with a minor in criminal justice. She works as a teaching assistant for an after-school program at TSL Daycare and as a weekly respite worker for handicapped children. Her volunteer experience includes tutoring students and working with the Capital District Lyme Disease Association, St. Peter’s Hospital, Guilderland Pop Warner, Reach Out Saint Rose Day, the City Rescue Mission and Mater Christi School. Cahill enjoys exercising, cooking, baking, and spending time with her family and dog.
• Gigi Diffenback, 21, Albany
Diffenback is a senior at the College of Saint Rose, majoring in childhood education with a concentration in earth science. As a volunteer, she traveled to New Orleans’ lower Ninth Ward twice to aid in Hurricane Katrina efforts, assisted at co-ops and local gardens in Washington, D.C., and worked with Christmas in Action in Spartansburg, S.C., to repair homes of aging individuals. Locally, she’s participated in Hurricane Irene relief, mentored at-risk youth at Help Yourself Academy and is involved in various projects with Saint Rose. Her hobbies include baking, singing and enjoying time with loved ones and animals.
• Fendi Munoz, 21, Albany
Munoz is a University at Albany junior, studying sociology with a minor in criminal justice. She currently works as an intern in the office of Assemblyman Francisco P. Moya. Fendi has volunteered as an organizer for a series of NYU-sponsored workshops on topics concerning youth and women’s issues. She has also participated in the University at Albany’s Cinderella Project, working as a personal shopper to help underprivileged high school girls buy a dream dress for the prom. Fendi enjoys singing, acting, dancing, reading and spending time with friends.
• Alexis Osborne, 22, Watervliet
Alexis graduated from St. John’s University with a degree in legal studies and will begin the graduate law program at Albany Law School this fall. The American Bar Association recently certified her as a paralegal. Alexis has volunteered as a youth representative for the United Nations Partnership for Global Justice and interned with the Brooklyn Nets, working closely to help NBA players give back to the community. She has also volunteered her time as a tutor and with the Ronald McDonald House, Relay for Life and Midnight Run programs. Alexis enjoys playing softball, basketball and soccer, traveling and reading.
For more information on the Albany Tulip Queen & Court, visit www.albanytulipqueen.com (click here)