Meet the 2021 Tulip Queen & Court

Ashanti' Bishop: The 2021 Albany Tulip Queen

© Photos by Bryan Lasky BDL Photography

2021 Albany Tulip Queen & Court

From L to R: Aadya Kaushik, Sierra Liotta, Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Ashanti' Bishop (Tulip Queen), Allison Moser, Andrea Thomas

Ashanti' Bishop, Age 21, Latham

Ashanti' is a Junior at the College Of Saint Rose where she studies Early Childhood and Special Education. She is also a long-time participant in New York State's Best Buddies Friendship Program as well as a devoted early intervention advocate. She hopes to someday use her knowledge and expertise to teach Special Education in the Upstate New York Area. Ashanti' is a member of The National Society Of Leadership and Success (Sigma Alpha Pi) and The College Of Saint Rose Honor Society. In her free time, she loves to travel, write poetry, volunteer in her local community, and express her love of art and fashion through cosmetology. Above all, she values time spent with her large family running their family business in Troy, New York. As a member of the 2021 Tulip Court, Ashanti' hopes to raise awareness of unity and mental health in the Albany community.


Aadya Kaushik, Age 22, Loudonville

Aadya is a first-year medical student at Albany Medical College, where she is following her dream of being a physician. She moved to Albany in elementary school, and has since become a huge Stewart's ice cream fan and dedicated community member, spending time volunteering in local hospitals. In her free time, she enjoys dancing, singing, reading, and trying out local cafés. Aadya is a member of the American Medical Women's Association and Nu Rho Psi (the National Honor Society in Neuroscience); she has a BS in Behavioral Neuroscience from Northeastern University and an MS in Bioethics from the Alden March Bioethics Institute at Albany Medical College. As a member of the 2021 Tulip Court, Aadya is excited to reach out to and connect with Albany's incredible youth population through literacy programs, STEAM encouragement, cultural enrichment, and more!


Sierra Liotta, Age 20, Guilderland

Sierra is a junior at the University at Albany working towards an honors degree in atmospheric science and mathematics. She aspires to be a research scientist of weather and climate to help improve weather prediction and emergency preparedness. Along with STEM, Sierra is also involved in the arts including theatre and piano. She works part-time at The Music Studio where she attended music classes beginning at four years old.

Through the nonprofit branch of The Music Studio called The Music Studio Initiative, Sierra has performed throughout the Capital Region sharing her love of music. Her volunteer experience includes assistance at The Regional Food Bank, the Albany Soup Kitchen, and the Albany Ronald McDonald House. Hiking the Adirondack high peaks is one of Sierra's favorite things to do with friends and family. As a member of the 2021 Tulip Court, Sierra hopes to bring the community together while inspiring children and girls who are interested in science and the arts.


Allison Moser, Age 20, Guilderland

Allison is a senior at the College of Saint Rose where she enjoys learning about general and special education. She is a lifelong Albany County resident and competitive dancer. She is the fundraising chair of Saint Rose Best Buddies, an organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). She hopes to someday become a spokesperson for those who are unable to advocate for themselves. Allison is a member of the National Honor Society of Leadership and Success and a two-time recipient of the Saint Rose Distinguished Service Award for her work with Best Buddies. In her free time, she loves to dance, go on walks, swim, and be outside. Above all, she values time with her friends and family, especially her nephew and two nieces. As a member of the 2021 Tulip Court, Allison hopes to help close the education gap caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic by putting an emphasis on learning, reading, and writing throughout Albany.


Andrea Thomas, Age 18, Albany

Andrea is an incoming freshman at Siena College in the dual-acceptance program with Albany Medical College. She's a lifelong resident of Albany and enjoys volunteering at local hospitals, conducting drives, and teaching cultural dance to children. Andrea serves as the American Red Cross' NENY Youth Board Member where she presents project ideas to engage youth in the organization's life-saving efforts. During the pandemic, she founded two volunteer initiatives: Teens Helping Seniors NY, a contactless grocery delivery service for the immunocompromised and eldery, and Camp Hi-Five, a national virtual summer camp for special needs children to exercise their motor and communication skills despite social isolation. Andrea also has a passion for science research, through which she constructed a 3D-printed electromyographically controlled prosthesis and hopes to use science and engineering to benefit others through innovation. As a member of the 2021 Tulip Court, Andrea hopes to inspire others to take up careers of service to become community advocates as well as act on their ambitions. She also aspires to call attention to the breakdown of barriers to further unite the incredible Albany community.


2020 Albany Tulip Queen & Court

2020 Albany Tulip Queen Court

From L to R: Maya Wilson, Karina Wojnar, Kaya Rifenberg-Stempel (Tulip Queen), Samantha Peck, Kimberly Guzman-Reyes

Kaya Rifenberg-Stempel, Age 19, Latham

Kaya is a senior at the University at Albany where she enjoys learning about foreign languages and cultures. She is a lifelong Albany County resident and Girl Scout. She is a co-founder of Building a Better Colonie, an organization that seeks to encourage youth participation in local politics. She is also a devoted wildlife advocate. She hopes to someday get involved in international politics as a foreign ambassador. Kaya is a member of the Tau Sigma transfer honor society and the Pi Delta Phi French Honor Society. In her free time, she loves to read, write, sketch, and play musical instruments. Above all, she values time with her family, especially her younger brothers. As a member of the 2020 Tulip Court, Kaya hopes to raise support for wildlife conservation projects and to spread knowledge about music, art, and foreign languages throughout Albany.


Kimberly Guzman-Reyes, Age 23, Albany

Kimberly is currently working towards her associate of general studies at Maria College in Albany while working part time with Insta-cart. Her volunteer experience includes assisting in the emergency department for Albany Stratton Veteran Medical Center, working as a teacher assistant, volunteering at Hudson Park Nursing Home, as well as preparing meals for those in need at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Albany. She enjoys hiking, cooking and yoga. As a member of the 2020 Tulip Court, Kimberly’s goal is to make a difference in her community by being involved in activities that create positive change for all people. She hopes to inspire and be an example for future Latin applicants to Tulip Queen.


Samantha Peck, Age 21, Albany

Sam is attending the University at Albany working towards earning her degree in psychology. Her volunteer experience involves participating in adoption clinics for the Mohawk Humane Society, volunteering at the food bank, walking in the Albany Pride Parade on behalf of the alliance for positive health , running a blood drive for the Red Cross and she has done countless service projects as a Girl Scout. Sam enjoys horseback riding, painting, reading, playing with dogs and cooking/baking. She also enjoys traveling and being part of new experiences. As a part of the 2020 Tulip Court her goal is to better herself and her community.


Maya Wilson, Age 21, Latham

Maya is a sophomore at Hudson Valley Community College where she is studying Human Services so she can one day be a Social Worker for a school. Maya works full-time at the NYS Assembly. Her volunteer experience ranges from the Regional Food Bank, making ribbons for Mothers Against Drunk Driving and most recently assisting at The Unity house for Domestic Violence. Maya was an avid cheerleader for Colonie Pop Warner where she participated in many fundraisers for her community. In Maya’s free time she takes pleasure in reading, health and fitness, and traveling. Maya was also a contestant in the miss New York USA pageant. As a member of 2020 Tulip Court, Maya’s goal is to work with families of low-income and their children to help them acquire resources that they need.


Karina Wojnar, Age 23, Albany

Karina is a graduate from Siena College where she studied business, art, and dialogue. She majored in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Social Justice & Global Citizenship. She currently works as the Development & Membership Manager at Albany Center Gallery, a community arts non profit located in downtown Albany. Karina has volunteered with organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club of the Capital Area and the Sanctuary for Independent Media. In her spare time, Karina works as a yoga instructor, hikes, creates art, and rollerblades. As a member of the 2020 Tulip Court, Karina hopes to work with the community to provide needed resources and develop sustainable, impactful programming that amplifies the voices of the unheard through creative expression.


2019 Albany Tulip Queen & Court

2019 Tulip Queen Finalists

From L to R: Emily Barcia-Varno (Tulip Queen), Isabella Burnett, Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Parneet Kaur, Megan Morrill, Michaela Schramm

Emily Barcia-Varno, Age 22, Glenmont

Emily is a recent graduate from The College of Saint Rose completing a Bachelors Degree in Marketing. She currently works in the New York State Department of Civil Service. She has volunteered through Saint Rose, worked with local soup kitchens, Ronald McDonald House, and worked in Panama helping to preserve Native Orchids. Her hobbies include working with kids, dance, theatre and traveling. As a member of the 2019 Tulip Court, Emily hopes to be a role model for the community and use superheroes as a way to connect kids to their inner super powers.


Isabella Burnett, Age 19, Albany

Isabella is currently a Sophomore at the College of Saint Rose earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree. She currently works at Follett Bookstore and in the summer as a Girl Scout Camp Counselor. Isabella volunteers her time at the senior living community Holiday at the Atrium and as a street cleaner through the College of Saint Rose. She enjoys camping, hiking and boating. As a member of the 2019 Tulip Court, she plans to promote literacy using her focus on art to help connect communities and to work for better environmental health in our community.


Parneet Kaur, Age 19, Green Island

Parneet is a Freshman at Siena College working towards her Biology Degree. During High School she was the recipient of the Multicultural Student Achievement Award from the University at Albany. She volunteers with Regional Food Pantry and Ronald McDonald House. Parneet has a passion for dance and music and her goal is to open up a dermatology office. As a member of the 2019 Tulip Court, her goals are to promote diversity through the sharing of multicultural art and to help build confidence and independence for younger women in the City.


Megan Morrill, Age 23, Latham

Megan is a Graduate of the University at Albany and is currently working towards publishing her first novel. Her volunteer experience ranges from the Ronald McDonald House to the March of Dimes, and she was a Key Club Committee Chair for Albany Medical Center's Children's Hospital. She enjoys photography, ice skating, rock climbing and writing. She was a three time winner in the Colonie Art League for photography and was a member of the Tau Sigma Honor's Society. As a member of the 2019 Tulip Court, Megan's goal is to raise awareness for craniofacial conditions and to help provide children in local hospitals a broader selection of books.


Michaela Schramm, Age 18, Loudonville

Michaela is a freshman attending the University at Albany working on her Accounting degree. At UAlbany Michaela plays club field hockey and is a proud member of Delta Sigma Pi. She has volunteered at the Center for Disability Services, Regional Food Bank, worked as a tutor and as a coach. In her free time Michaela enjoys spending her summers lifeguarding and teaching swim lessons at a local pool, crafts, hiking, and spending time with her family. As a member of the 2019 Tulip Court, Michaela plans to use her math talents to help connect reading and math as well as to explore different cultures through the literacy program.


2018 Albany Tulip Queen & Court

2018 Tulip Queen Finalists

From L to R: Sawyer Cresap (Tulip Queen), Natalie Joseph, Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Xavia Francis, Elizabeth Stenard, Katherine Donnelly

Sawyer Cresap, Age 23, Albany

Sawyer Cresap is a Syracuse University graduate completing a Bachelors Degree in Environmental Policy with honors. She currently works as a Stewardship and Volunteer Coordinator at the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy. Sawyer has served in AmeriCorps, volunteered as an art instructor with 4H, and assisted locally with the Ronald McDonald House. She is an avid outdoors enthusiast who loves running, hiking as well as painting and drawing. As a member of the 2018 Tulip Court, Sawyer hopes to inspire others' curiosity about the world and the community around them through nature and literacy.


Katherine Donnelly, Age 23, Latham

Katherine is a Sage College of Albany Graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Biology. She is currently working towards a Dental Hygiene degree at Hudson Valley Community College, where she serves as the Vice President of the Student Chapter of the American Dental Hygienists' Association. Katherine currently works as a pediatric dental assistant and is looking forward to becoming a full time hygienist. Her most rewarding volunteer experiences include Special Olympics, Joseph's House and Shelter, Sage Allies and more. Katherine enjoys traveling to St. John in the US Virgin Islands and Glacier National Park in Montana. In her free time, Katherine loves reading, singing along to the radio, spending time with her family, and playing softball. As a member of the 2018 Tulip Court, she plans to promote literacy with a focus on children's mental and physical health.


Xavia Francis, Age 18, Albany

Xavia is a high school senior graduating this spring from Albany Leadership Charter High School for Girls. She has been accepted and plans to attend the University at Albany this fall. In 2017 she was named a Women at Work 20 Under 20 Leadership Initiative Award winner. Xavia currently works as a freelance photography and hopes to open her own studio after college. She volunteers with Grassroots Givers, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and as a photographer for the Scholastic Talent Showcase. In addition to her passion of photography, Xavia enjoys playing volleyball. As a member of the 2018 Tulip Court, Xavia's goals are to create book drives, be an active role model in the community and raise awareness about teen homelessness.


Natalie Joseph, Age 18, Guilderland

Natalie is currently a sophomore at The College of Saint Rose, working towards receiving her Bachelor's Degree in Business Marketing. Her volunteer experience ranges from the Albany County Foster Parent Appreciation Brunch, Albany County Annual Foster Care Awareness Walk, the Ronald McDonald House Homecoming Gala, modeling at the Fancy Schmancy's fight for Juvenile Diabetes, and serving as a Lector at The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. She enjoys Dancing, Singing, Performing in Musical Theatre Productions and volunteering as a Tour Guide at the NYS Museum. As a member of the 2018 Tulip Court, Natalie's goal is to provide effective literacy reading interventions for children with Learning Disabilities.


Elizabeth Stenard, Age 19, Albany

Elizabeth is a freshman attending Hudson Valley Community College in their honors scholars program. She plans to graduate with an Associate's degree in Liberal Art and Humanities and then pursue her certificate in Radiologic Technology and Echocardiology. She has volunteered as a teaching aid at Mater Christi School and summer camp, cooked meals at St. Joseph's House and was an Albany High School Key Club member. In her free time Elizabeth enjoys cooking, baking, yoga and visiting national and state parks across the country. As a member of the 2018 Tulip Court, Elizabeth plans to combine her love of cooking and reading to create a Recipe for Literacy.


2017 Albany Tulip Queen & Court

2017 Tulip Court

From L to R: Erin Bryk, Ashley Loggins (Tulip Queen), Kelly Phillips, Julianna Rauf, Amanda Volk

Ashley Loggins, Age 23, Albany

Ashley is a graduate of Clarkson University with a degree in Chemistry and Biomolecular Science. She currently works at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. Some of her most rewarding volunteer experiences have included working with Family Promise of the Capital Region and the South End Children's Café. In her free time, Ashley enjoys hiking and traveling, and is a local high school basketball coach. As the 2017 Albany Tulip Queen, she hopes to leave a legacy of positive contributions to the City of Albany by becoming involved with numerous non-profit organizations and learning more about their local needs.


Erin Bryk, Age 21, Latham

A native of the Capital District, Erin Bryk is a proud member of the 2017 Tulip Court. She values this experience as an opportunity to serve as a leader in the community and to assist young people in achieving their educational goals.

Erin graduated in May 2017 from Barnard College of Columbia University, where she studied Asian & Middle Eastern Cultures and Political Science. She currently works as a paralegal at Unity House Law Project, providing free legal representation to survivors of domestic violence seeking civil relief. Her work experiences have enriched her interest in and understanding of the law; she looks forward to attending law school in the near future and is excited for all to come.

Erin is a passionate advocate of women's rights, an avid reader of non-fiction, and a shameless dog owner.


Kelly Phillips, Age 21, Loudonville

Kelly is a first year graduate student at The College of Saint Rose. She working towards earning her Masters in Education in School Psychology. Kelly graduated from Siena College in May and she is really enjoying furthering her education in the psychology field. She works at North Colonie Central School as a Special Education Teacher Aide, gaining experience that she can use for her future. She continues to volunteer with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Albany and other Albany non-profits throughout her year on the Albany Tulip Court. She is a lifetime Girl Scout, troop leader, and mentors younger girl scouts on achieving their Gold Awards, which is the highest achievement you can achieve in Girl Scouting. Kelly loves to travel and has been to Europe and has traveled to South Africa to teach English at an orphanage. In her free time, she loves activities in the outdoors like hiking, camping and kayaking. Though out the rest of the year, Kelly looks forward to promoting literacy and making more connections and partnerships within the Albany Community.


Julianna Rauf, Age 19, Medusa

Julianna is an English major at Siena College with minors in Writing & Communications and Educational Studies. She tutors in the Siena College Writing Center, is a Learning Assistant for Educational Psychology, and is a SAINT Orientation Leader. One of Julianna's favorite on-campus activities is writing for Her Campus Siena, having published many of her articles. She volunteers mostly with the American Legion and Urban Scholars, as well as anywhere else whenever she can. Julianna is looking forward to attending a service trip to Nicaragua in January 2018 with Siena's Franciscan Center for Service and Advocacy. She enjoys sports, music, reading, writing, nature, and spending time with her family and chocolate lab. Julianna's goal as a member of the 2017 Tulip Court is to make a positive difference in the community by being an influential leader who brings out the best in others through literacy.


Amanda Volk, Age 21, Albany

Amanda is a Graduate student working on her Masters of Public Health in the Epidemiology program at the University at Albany where she also completed her Bachelors Degree in 2016. She is currently an intern at the Healthcare Association of New York State. Amanda has experience volunteering with The Global Institute for Health and Human Rights and the New York State Public Health Association. She enjoys spending her time reading, cooking, traveling, and playing with her dog. Amanda's goals as a member of the 2017 Tulip Court are to develop a literacy project that would combine reading with public heath.


2016 Albany Tulip Queen & Court

2016 Tulip Court

From L to R: Racquel Saddler, Mariah Rickard, Adaviah Ward (Tulip Queen), Samantha Coons, Shannon Moquin

Adaviah Ward, Age 21, Albany - Tulip Queen

Adaviah is a Liberal Arts major at Hudson Valley, planning to go on to obtain her Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education. She is working locally at the Lexington Center. Adaviah volunteers regularly with Albany Community Charter School and the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church. She enjoys spending her time reading, journaling, singing in choir, and working with her church's youth group. Adaviah's goals as a member of the 2016 Tulip Court are to help develop educational programs for kids outside of the classroom, and to act as a mentor and role model for the community.


Samantha Coons, Age 19, Guilderland

Samantha is currently enrolled at Siena College, pursuing a degree in Economics. She hopes to attend graduate school to continue her education in Health Service Administration or Economic Policy. She works as a gymnastics coach and as an intern in the New York State Senate. Samantha is the Volunteer Service Chair for the Siena College Red Cross Executive Board, organizing community service events including blood drives and an annual 5K charity race. She enjoys spending time with her family and working on DIY craft projects. Her goal as a member of the 2016 Tulip Court is to empower and encourage children through literacy programs.


Shannon Moquin, Age 19, Albany

Shannon is a sophomore attending The University at Albany, working towards her degree in Public Policy. Shannon works as a counselor at a YMCA summer camp every year. She is involved in a variety of community service organizations, including Habitat for Humanity and Big Brothers Big Sisters. She volunteered on a service mission to Haiti, where she taught reading and math at two orphanages. In her free time, Shannon enjoys traveling and going to the movies with her sisters. As a member of the 2016 Tulip Court, her goal is to create an initiative combining literature and geography, teaching children about different cultures around the world.


Mariah Rickard, Age 20, Cohoes

Mariah is a junior Economics major attending The University at Albany. Mariah works at Kidz Korner Child Care Learning Center in Latham. She has volunteered as a camp counselor, a tutor for area high schools and at the Community Plunge Program in Ithaca. She loves camping, hiking and roller derby, and is the founder of the Nerf Club at UAlbany. As a member of the 2016 Tulip Court, Mariah hopes to design a program that encourages children to write and illustrate their own stories to promote imagination, self-esteem, and self-expression.


Racquel Saddler, Age 23, Albany

Racquel is currently a first-year student at Albany Law School. She graduated from The University at Albany with a degree in Political Science. Racquel has worked as a White House intern and locally in the New York State Senate and the Schaffer Law Library. She has volunteered at the Pine Hills Neighborhood Cleanup for the past four years. She enjoys singing, dancing, running and yoga. Racquel's goal as a member of the 2016 Tulip Court is to implement a literacy program that benefits local children and the community at large.


2015 Albany Tulip Queen & Court

2015 Tulip Court

From L to R: Alexandra Cronin (Tulip Queen), Morgan Elizabeth Heyward, Jacqueline Murphy, Eva Petkanas, Sarah Wilamowski

Alexandra Cronin, Age 22, Selkirk - Tulip Queen

Alexandra is currently taking classes at the University at Albany in hopes of continuing on to physician assistant school. She graduated from SUNY Brockport with a double major in Dance and Exercise Physiology and now works part-time as a personal trainer at Albany Medical Center. Her volunteer experience includes helping to organize Relay for Life events, a dance benefit to honor leukemia patients, and a Christmas toy drive for children at hospitals. In her free time, Alexandra loves to dance and exercise. Her goal as member of the 2015 Tulip Court is to incorporate exercise events in the classroom and community.


Morgan Elizabeth Heyward, Age 18, Albany

Morgan is a freshman at Russell Sage College working towards her degree in Theatre. Her volunteer experience includes tutoring children and working with the Regional Food Bank, the Albany Police Athletic League, soup kitchens and local animal shelters. In her free time, Morgan enjoys reading, writing poetry, acting and working backstage for theater productions. As a member of the 2015 Tulip Court, her goal is to create an initiative using literature, film and art to support diversity and educate children about other cultures.


Jacqueline Murphy, Age 23, Albany

Jacqueline graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 2014 and is now working towards finishing her clinical experience hours in hopes of being accepted to Albany Medical Center's Physicians Assistant Graduate Program. She has volunteered for the Special Olympics Basketball Clinic, Geneva Living Center, Geneva YMCA and the Happiness House. She loves spending time with her family, playing sports and being outdoors. As a member of the 2015 Tulip Court, Jacqueline hopes to start an educational program for young children in the community that helps teach them to make positive life choices and create awareness about bullying.


Eva Petkanas, Age 22, Albany

Eva graduated from the University at Albany in May 2014 with a degree in Public Policy. She has volunteered at Albany Public Library, Center Square Association, and Aurora Foundation. She enjoys hiking, swimming and going on jogs around Albany to get to know the city better. Eva's goal as a member of the 2015 Tulip Court is to emphasize fitness while encouraging young learners to read.


Sarah Wilamowski, Age 20, Guilderland

Sarah is a current senior at the University at Albany who studies Forensic Chemistry. She is an active member of Alpha Phi Omega, a community service organization that participates in several volunteer efforts, including Habitat for Humanity Habitat Restore and highway cleanups. She enjoys spending her time outdoors camping, hiking, swimming, and running, and hopes to complete a marathon within the next few years. Sarah's goal as a member of the 2015 Tulip Court is to increase writing and literacy skills in local classrooms.


2014 Albany Tulip Queen & Court

2014 Tulip Queen & Court Jillian Callanan TaraMarie Crisafulli Caitlin Whelan Kasmira Wilkins Meghan Yi

From L to R: Jillian Callanan, TaraMarie Crisafulli, Caitlin Whelan (Tulip Queen), Kasmira Wilkins, Meghan Yi. Photos by Tom Miller.

Caitlin Whelan Caitlin Whelan, Age 20, Albany - Tulip Queen

Caitlin is a sophomore at Siena College, where she majors in Psychology with a minor in Health Studies. She is an advocator for the Shared Hope International program, and her volunteer experience includes work with Relay for Life, the Schenectady Mission, Siena Residential Life service trips, National Honor Society and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Walk. Caitlin enjoys volleyball, basketball, swimming, hiking and playing guitar in her spare time. After obtaining her degree, she aspires to enter into the field of Occupational Therapy. Caitlin's goal as a member of the 2014 Tulip Court is to advocate literacy while teaching valuable lessons on the effectiveness of community and creativity as tools to accomplish goals.


Jillian Callanan Jillian Callanan, Age 20, Albany

Jillian is a sophomore at Union College, where she majors in American Studies and minors in Dance. She's volunteered with the Teresian House, Little Sisters of the Poor and the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society, and spends nearly every weekend caring for her elderly grandparents. Jillian is a member of the Union College Dance Team and is working on creating a program to provide a weekly youth dance class. Much of Jillian's free time is devoted to her lifelong passion for dance, but she also loves animals and crafting. As a member of the 2014 Albany Tulip Court, Jillian hopes to build children's leadership and literacy skills by developing programs that incorporate community interaction and local history.


TaraMarie Crisafulli TaraMarie Crisafulli, Age 21, Loudonville

TaraMarie is a junior Psychology major at Siena College, minoring in English. She is a Siena Bonner Service Leader, volunteering weekly to tutor middle school students in English skills and host an after-school club focused on globalizing education and raising awareness of social diversity. Her community service experience also includes work with Habitat For Humanity, the Siena Soup or Sandwiches Program and the Damietta Cross Cultural Center. Her favorite hobby is baking for her family and friends. TaraMarie aspires to become a teacher and Principal, and as a Tulip Court member she hopes to inspire young people to become involved, responsible members of their community.


Kasmira Wilkins Kasmira Wilkins, Age 18, Albany

Kasmira is a graduating senior at Bishop Maginn High School, where she is a member of the National Honor Society and a seven-letter varsity athlete. Kasmira has volunteered with Equinox, the Stephen and Harriett Myers House, Underground Railroad Community Service, St. Sophia's Simple Day of Giving and the Ronald McDonald House, and also coordinates teen programs and community service projects as the Teen President of the Greater Albany Chapter of Jack and Jill of America. Kasmira is a dedicated member of her school's volleyball, track and basketball teams and enjoys baking and reading in her free time. She hopes to play a positive and pivotal role in the lives of Albany youth as a Tulip Court member.


Meghan Yi Meghan Yi, Age 23, Albany

Meghan is a first-year medical student at Albany Medical College and holds a degree in Biology from Siena College. Her volunteer experience includes mentoring Albany students as a Team Leader for Project SOAR, biking across America to raise awareness for affordable housing, and teaching math and English to elementary school students in Namibia. In her free time, Meghan enjoys running, biking, crafting, playing guitar and singing with Siena's Praise & Worship group. She plans to pursue a career in primary care after graduation. As a member of the 2014 Tulip Court, Meghan intends to develop fresh, creative programs to continue the Court's longstanding tradition of service and community-building.


2013 Albany Tulip Queen & Court

Mayor Jennings and Kate Bender, Meghan Cahil, Gigi Diffenback, Fendi Munoz, and Alexis Osborne

From L to R: Mayor Jennings, Kate Bender, Meghan Cahil, Gigi Diffenback, Fendi Munoz, Alexis Osborne

Kate Bender

Kate Bender, Age 18, Slingerlands - Tulip Queen

Kate is a freshman Business major at Siena College. Through the Siena Bonner Service Leaders Program, Kate 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. Kate is a co-host of WVCR's Change Makers radio program and is an active volunteer with the American Cancer Association, the Teresian House and Refugees & Immigrant Support Services of Emmaus. Kate is a part of the Siena College dance team and loves to spend time with her friends and family. As a 2013 Tulip Court member, Kate hopes to establish sustainable programs for the Mayor Jennings Literacy Campaign in order to empower local youth and help to create a close-knit community.



Meghan Cahill, Age 19, Albany

Meghan 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. Meghan's 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. Meghan enjoys exercising, cooking, baking, and spending time with her family and dog. As a member of the 2013 Tulip Court, her goals are to encourage children in the community to chase their dreams and to serve as a role model for young girls.


Gigi Diffenback

Gigi Diffenback, Age 21, Albany

Gigi is a senior at the College of Saint Rose, majoring in Childhood Education with a concentration in Earth Science. As a volunteer, Gigi traveled to New Orleans' lower Ninth Ward twice to aid in Hurricane Katrina efforts, assisted at co-ops and local gardens in Washington, DC, and worked with Christmas in Action in Spartansburg, South Carolina 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. As a member of the 2013 Tulip Court, Gigi's goals are to promote the importance of the community's history and to create unity between residents of all ages.


Fendi Munoz

Fendi Munoz, Age 21, Albany

Fendi 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. As a member of the 2013 Tulip Court, she hopes to inspire children to read and grow so that they can one day reach their dreams.


Alexis Osborne

Alexis Osborne, Age 22, Watervliet

Alexis graduated from Saint 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. As a member of the 2013 Tulip Court, she looks forward to promoting literacy by showing children that they can achieve their dreams through a solid education.