About the Heather Queen
The Chicago Scots Heather Queen 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 2017-2018
Jennifer Gehrke is seventeen years old and will be a senior this fall at William Fremd High School in Palatine. Jennifer has been a Highland Dancer since she was seven years old. When Jennifer is not dancing she loves being involved in her school's music program where she plays the oboe, tuba, and drums for her school's concert and marching bands. She also loves to sing in her school choir, show choir, and school musicals every year. Recently Jenny has been accepted into the Tri-M (Modern Music Masters) Honor Society on oboe and vocal performance.
Application Essay by Jennifer Gehrke:
My name is Jennifer Gehrke, I am seventeen years old, and this fall I will be a senior at William Fremd High School in Palatine. I have been a Highland Dancer since I was seven years old. I took up Highland Dance after my big sister- I thought she looked so graceful and strong, and I yearned to be just like her. I am also involved in my school's concert band, marching band, choir, show choir, and musicals. I have also been accepted into the Tri-M Honors Music Society.
Highland Dance has always been an important activity in my life. Throughout any breaks I've taken for marching band season and no matter my commitment level, I will continue to make time for my passion of Highland Dance. I am always able to come back to my home- The Scottish Home- and dance my heart out. No matter how long I've been away, I can always count on my fellow Scots in the dance community to support me through anything.
I love helping out in dance class and working with the younger students. I have become a mentor to some of them, and having this type of relationship with them always motivates me to reach for my goals. It has also taught me that I can do anything through hard work and perseverance. Seeing these kids every week, working with them, seeing their improvement, and helping them develop their passion for dance is what helps me fuel my own passion. We have become each other's source for motivation, and I couldn't be prouder.
Highland dance along with marching band has helped me with both my time management and communication skills, in addition to teaching me discipline. I have also learned how important it is to follow through on commitments that others are counting on me to accomplish.
Highland Dancing has enabled me to explore my Scottish heritage in more ways than I could ever imagine. I have consistently been attending and performing at The Feast of the Haggis, Scottish Home Picnic, and Burns Dinners for as long as I can remember. Whenever I attend Scottish events, I always encourage my friends to join me in order to share my Scottish heritage with them as well as to encourage them to explore their own cultural background.
My dance teacher, Nancy Strolle, always said that your Scottish heritage will follow you for life, and you will always find a way back to your roots. I can honestly say that Highland Dance has been the most consistent aspect of my life. I would not be who I am today if I hadn't followed in my sister's steps, and explored what it means to me to be Scottish. As Heather Queen I would work to give others the opportunities I have had, by holding different events, performances, and classes. I would love to hold library performances to teach children about Scottish culture, perform at nursing homes, and also help Girl Scouts earn their cultural badges by teaching them Highland Dance. I also want to hold dance performances to promote Tartan Day! Most importantly I want to pass along my culture and tradition to others and give back to the organization that made me the person I am today, and hopefully inspire others to do the same.
Want to be our next Heather Queen?