Kathleen Sinclair Bertram, 19, is ready to step into her role as the duchess of the Texas Rose Festival. She comes from a long line of family members who’ve been involved with the Rose Festival in some capacity for about five decades.
As a little girl, she enjoyed seeing the glamorous gowns and watching relatives grace the stage.
“I got to grow up with it,” Miss Bertram said. “My dad’s whole side of the family was in it, so I definitely wanted to participate in it. ... I think it will be a lot of good memories.”
She’ll represent her family in an imaginative costume, characterizing this year’s theme — “Cirque de la Rose.”
Miss Bertram graduated from Robert E. Lee High School and now attends the University of Oklahoma, where she studies social work. She eventually plans to obtain a master’s degree.
Miss Bertram said she wants to make a difference for children who have struggled to learn. Learning disability hits close to home and her academic aspirations haven’t been easy to reach.
At 5, she was diagnosed with severe attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. She was having difficultly learning the alphabet and the days of the week. Her mother, who was a fourth-grade teacher, also noticed something was wrong. Tutors, special accommodations and medication helped change her path.
“It was challenging at first,” Miss Bertram said. “I could obviously do everything the other kids were doing, but I couldn’t sit there and make myself do it.”
Testing is still a struggle for the college sophomore, but she presses on.
“I’ve learned to control it a lot better,” she said. “My (medicine) dosage is a lot lighter than what it used to be.”
She’s had to work hard while also keeping a positive attitude. Her mother, Cathy Bertram, admires her determination.
“We’re very proud of her,” Mrs. Bertram said. “She’s a very good person. She works hard. I think that’s also part of her ADHD. It’s kind of taught her over the years — she has to really work harder than anybody else.”
In addition to academics, the avid reader is involved in a sorority, a student church group and is on track to graduate one year early.
Many of Miss Bertram’s college friends, including those from the Dallas and Houston areas, are familiar with the Texas Rose Festival tradition. Mrs. Bertram noted the family takes pride in being a part of that tradition.
“It really is about the city and everyone’s volunteer hours,” she said. “It’s unbelievable what they put into it. It is so fun for the girls, but it really does goes back to what it does for our community.”
The duchess echoed the sentiment.
“The star of the show is the rose,” Miss Bertram said. “It’s not me. It’s not (Queen) Katie. It’s not any of the girls. It’s the Tyler, Texas, rose.