About the Heather Queen

The Heather Queen of the Illinois Saint Andrew Society is a female between the ages of 16–22 years old who is Scottish by birth, has Scottish heritage and/or is actively involved in the Scottish community. During her reign, the Heather Queen serves as a goodwill ambassador of the Illinois Saint Andrew Society by encouraging her peers to explore their Scottish or other cultural identity while promoting Scottish culture in Chicagoland.

Meet Our Heather Queen 2016-2017

Heather Queen Jamie Leigh McGregor Earls at the 2015 Scottish Festival & Highland Games

Erika Knowles

BIO:

Erika Knowles is nineteen years old and graduated from Waubonsie Valley High School in Naperville, IL. Erika is an active volunteer in both her church and her community. As part of her church services, Erika traveled to Toronto, Canada and Michigan on mission trips to help support people in need. She has taken on leadership roles such as crew leader for Vacation Bible School, assistant director for the church musicales and student leader for the middle school youth group. She has also invested her time in her school's extra curricular activities. She toured the Midwest with the Waubonsie Valley Grammy award winning Show Choir, and has performed at the House of Blues and with the Chicago Sinfonietta with her school's Gospel Choir. Erika has two younger sisters and eighteen Scottish cousin. She is currently enrolled at DePaul University.

Application Essay by Erika Knowles:

My name is Erika Knowles, I am 18 years old (soon to be 19) and a recent graduate of Waubonsie Valley High School in Naperville, IL. I will be entering my freshman year this coming fall at DePaul University majoring in communications and media studies with, hopefully, a minor in theater. Unlike most of the prior Heather Queen competition participants I am not a highland dancer. My passion in high school was choir and theater. As a result, I was part of the Waubonsie Valley Grammy award winning music program and toured throughout the Midwest for Show Choir competitions. I also enjoyed 3-years as part of the school's gospel choir, Mosaic, performing at such prestigious venues as the Chicago House of Blues and the Chicago Sinfonietta. This summer I am excited to be performing my last Mosaic performance at Ravinia, again with the Chicago Sinfonietta.

 

My identity as a Scot really began with my father, who immigrated to the US from
Scotland in 1995. Like most immigrants he was reluctant to leave his heritage behind and wanted
his children to know, and embrace, their own Scottish identity. My very first visit to Scotland
was when I was just 6 months old. While, then, I may have been too young to fully appreciate
my visit I have had many wonderful adventures throughout Scotland since. I have traveled the
length and breath of the country from exploring Loch Ness and embracing the legend of Nessi
(just like most american tourists), to driving along the lovely country roads through towns such
as St. Andrews where I gained a real appreciation for the beauty and scenery of the Highlands, to
exploring the Capital City, my father’s home town of Edinburgh, where I gained a good sense of
the history and culture of the country. Having that Scottish heritage makes me feel proud to be a
Chicago (and American) Scot.


My father is the oldest of 8 siblings. Since my first visit to Scotland there have been
twenty additions to my generation of the family. Newer technology such as skype, FaceTime,
and FaceBook has aloud me to remain close with my Scottish cousins even though they live over
three thousand miles away. This year (June 19th) instead of a graduation party I will be making
my first solo international trip to Scotland. It would be even more special if I were to travel as
the newly crowned Heather Queen.
I have explored my Scottish identity by attending a number of Scottish events over the
past ten years such as the Highland Games, the Burns Supper, the Scottish Home picnic and my
particular favorite the annual Society dinner. I will, as part of my platform, introduce many of
my peers to these events so that they will have an opportunity to explore their own Scottish
identity.


As the Illinois St. Andrew Society’s goodwill ambassador I will promote the Society via
social media. I will do this by setting up event pages and inviting everyone on my list of contacts
to come out and enjoy the Scottish sense of adventure whether they are of Scottish heritage or
not. Since I will be moving to Chicago to attend DePaul University I will be in a whole new
environment full of people eager to explore a new community. Chicago Scots will provide a
terrific opportunity for me to engage with my college peers.
I believe I will be a good candidate to represent the Illinois Saint Andrew Society because
I want to make a big impact on the younger generation and I would really like to share my
enthusiasm and passion for Scotland with future Chicago Scots.

Want to be our next Heather Queen: