Long before she was ever a Member of the Tournament of Roses, Vanessa Schulz was walking the Parade route. Initially involved through her role at Pasadena City College managing the college student volunteers, she gained an appreciation for the Parade and the hard-working individuals who succeed in sending it down Colorado Boulevard, and formally joined the Association 2011.

Rose Parade traditions run deep for Vanessa, whose aunt lives on Arbor Street across the street from Tournament House, and whose grandfather lived on Congress Place, past West California Boulevard. Every New Year’s Eve, her grandfather would host an extravagant New Year’s party, with anywhere from 100 to 200 guests, who would all camp out in his living room to ring in the new year. Then, around 3 a.m, the party-goers would head the parade route to witness the floral decorated floats in their glory. These traditions carried on for Vanessa, who recalls a favorite memory from she was in college. “We would camp out on the Parade route, and a group from Texas brought out their boombox and taught our crew some line dances,” she shares.

After graduating from PCC, Vanessa attended Boston University, where She graduated with two bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy as well as Political Science. A Southern California girl at heart, Vanessa soon grew tired of the cold winters and left her job at Harvard to move back home to California, where she then pursued her master’s degree in Philosophy from CSU, Los Angeles. Soon after, an internship with PCC led to her first teaching experience, which led to a job offer with PCC immediately following graduation.

Today, Vanessa is a professor of Philosophy at PCC, as a member of several other college faculty teams, including West Los Angeles College, East Los Angeles College, Los Angeles City College and Pierce College, Vanessa loves education, philosophy and most of all, people – and this is evident in all that she does.

While Vanessa grew up seeing the white suitors lining the streets of Orange Grove and Colorado boulevards, she didn’t it was possible to become one of the elite until her colleague and mentor, Michelle, entered the scene. A multi-decade Member of the Tournament of Roses and mentor to Vanessa, Michelle Ireland-Galman was working to recognize the college student volunteers in the late 2000s, a project in which Vanessa was closely involved.

In addition to the “Big 3” committees, Vanessa’s Tournament journey has also taken her to roles on Membership Development, Television/Radio and Music committee. Now a Vice Chair, Vanessa is pleased to be on the Music Committee for this year’s theme – “Celebrating a World of Music.”

“The best part about Tournament of Roses,” Vanessa says, “is the people. Being in a closed circle of academia, I have still had the opportunity to meet so many people from different walks of life, different jobs and activities that I might not normally have the chance to meet with in my day to day work – lawyers, people from the entertainment industry, event planners. It’s astonishing the range of skills and people we get. Some of my best friends I have made through Tournament.”

Outside of her work with Tournament, Vanessa is advisor of the PCC Honor Society – Alpha Gamma Sigma; advisor of Omicron Mu Delta – the honorary service organization and oldest organization on PCC’s campus;, and a member of the P.E.O. Sisterhood, an organization of women dedicated to promoting education for women. She was recently named to the P.E.O. State Website Committee.

Hard at work with the 2024 Marching Bands, Vanessa and the Music Committee are also gearing up for the Tournament of Roses’ biggest project of the Summer, the Pacific Opera Project presented at the Tournament House on July 29. POP Opera, as they’re more commonly known, is a nationally acclaimed, local organization dedicated to bringing opera to audiences that would not normally engage with opera. This event is a part of the Association’s year’s long celebration of music. “POP provided a perfect opportunity to not only share in the theme, but also demonstrate to local communities that we are not just a “one day organization,” said Vanessa.

Vanessa says events like POP and this year’s theme is a “beautiful bridge and testament to how the Association connects to other cultures, other societies and other nations through not only entertainment, but also the world of music. And as President Alex says, “Let the music begin!”