UTRGV student Alexandria Canchola has joined the ranks of Rio Grande Valley citrus royalty, reigning this year as Queen Citrianna the 82nd.
A junior exercise science major, Canchola won the title in January 2018 and assumed her duties at the beginning of 2019. It’s a position she juggles with her classes at UTRGV.
The win was a dream fulfilled.
“It is my 6-year-old self’s dream come true,” she said.
A McAllen native with roots in Mission, Canchola sits on the Royal Court for the Texas Citrus Fiesta, one of the longest running festivals in the state, which celebrates the agricultural success of the citrus industry in the Valley.
Her reign as Queen Citrianna began with the 2019 Texas Citrus Fiesta celebration and Parade of Oranges, held in Mission in late January, and the title and its duties remain hers until next year’s fiesta.
This is not Canchola’s first brush with citrus royalty; she was crowned Princess Anna the 54th of the Tangerine Court, when she was just 6 years old. She says her grandmother was the primary influence for entering the pageants.
“It was my grandmother’s dream to see me up there in the Parade of Oranges,” she said. “Because of that, we ended up becoming involved and learned a lot about the citrus industry in the Valley.”
With the crown come responsibilities, and with the spring semester in full swing at UTRGV, time is at a premium. She is on track to get her bachelor’s degree in spring 2020. And after graduation, she plans to pursue a master’s in health administration, she said.
“I’m taking a lot of senior-level courses and a lot of sciences at the moment,” she said. “It was a struggle between classes and the fiesta, but I’m the type of person who loves to be active and have things to juggle, so I enjoyed what I was doing, while still keeping my education a top priority.”
Even though the Texas Citrus Fiesta and its festivities are over, her job as Queen Citrianna is in full swing as Canchola begins presenting herself as the face of the industry.
“Throughout this year, the Royal Court will be invited to partake in various festivals and parades across South Texas,” she said. “As the new queen, I will make appearances at community events to represent the Texas Citrus Fiesta.”
Canchola’s goal during her reign is to improve marketing practices for the annual fiesta by teaching younger children about the Valley and the industries that make it so special. She plans to appear at elementary and high schools in Mission, in hopes of inspiring children and teenagers, the same way she was inspired when she was their age.
“Apart from educating a younger generation about the importance of the citrus industry in the Valley, I want to encourage them to participate in the Texas Citrus Fiesta,” she said. “Whether it’s participating in the Royal Court or simply showing up to support the parade and events, it’s a way of keeping the tradition alive.”