Graduating senior Zoe Grant wrapped up her semester and her career at the University of Southern Maine with a national honor, being named this April as one of the nation’s Cherry Blossom Princesses. Young women aged 19-24 are selected for the honor based on academic, athletic and community service merits.
Since 1948, more than 3,000 young women leaders from across the United States and world have participated in the Cherry Blossom Princess Program as a celebration of the unique and enduring friendship between the United States and Japan. These young women represent their respective states, territories, and countries in both public and private events held each day across the Washington, DC area and engage with leaders and role models in government, business, arts, the media and more.
Zoe shared her experience, along with some photos, saying:
"My time as a Cherry Blossom Princess was so special. I was fortunate enough to meet Senator Susan Collins, Wayne Hanson (Director of Wreaths Across America and fellow Mainer) as well as the Japanese, Lithuanian and Russian Ambassador along with 51 other talented, intelligent young ladies representing the US and its territories. In our busy week, we toured the White House, the US Capitol, the US Institute for Peace as well as presentations at several embassies and cultural centers.
Perhaps the most fun event though was the grand ball and parade. The Cherry Blossom Queen is crowned by the spin of a wheel (Maine was one tick off from winning!) and is given the gift of a trip to Japan as a guest of the Embassy of Japan. The anticipation was high when the wheel was spun! The last day we were on the Cherry Blossom Princess float through DC during the Cherry Blossom Parade, a nationally televised event. I think the parade was my personal highlight but I loved learning to dance at the Russian Embassy and trying Sushi for the first time at the Japanese Embassy! Most importantly, I made lifelong friends with some of the smartest, kindest women I know. It was also great having a taste of home with a reception held by the Maine State Society at Luke's Lobster."
The Belfast, Maine native is graduating from USM with a degree in Business Administration and majoring in Marketing, and she worked last semester with ENACTUS to raise funds for The Locker Project, a nonprofit serving Portland school children who are dealing with food insecurity. She also has held several internships that were coordinated through the USM Career Hub, including a nearly year-long internship at Diversified Communications in Portland with their Tech and Wine teams.
Zoe is also a talented competitive snowboarder.
“During my time at USM I was (and will continue to be) heavily involved with USASA/USSA alpine snowboard racing, I'm nationally and internationally ranked in the top 15 for women. In fact, the week before the Cherry Blossom Festival I was at USASA Nationals in Copper, Colorado where I placed in the top 6 of elite women in two events,” Zoe said, adding that she’s currently busy training for the Tri for a Cure - her first triathlon!
Zoe was featured in the Waldo Village Soup local news media.