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With all of the sudden attention that being queen of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Chicago brings, the chosen Irish royalty could easily become a bit camera shy. But that’s not the case with Julie Anne Venci, this year’s choice as the crowning jewel of the 52nd annual parade.

“Medicine is tough too,” Venci said with a chuckle.

Venci is a recent med school graduate now in her first year of residency at the Loyola University Medical Center. For the last five years she has called Forest Park home, in part because of the village’s proximity to her studies.

Venci is a rarity among St. Patrick’s Day parade queens. She’s only half Irish–her mother hails from Ireland, while her father comes from Hungary. And she certainly isn’t the O’Rourke or O’Sullivan people have come to expect from a lady representing Irish pride in a city that dyes its river green. Everything else though, is a perfect fit.

“My Irish heritage has always been a big part of my life,” Venci said. “I used to do Irish dancing when I was growing up.”

It’s a hobby she still enjoys.

Hungarian heritage aside, Venci does fit the profile of a St. Patrick’s Day parade queen–young, pretty, and proud to be green. Oddly enough, the whole thing almost never happened. If her mother, Josephine, hadn’t secretly entered her daughter in the running to become Chicago royalty for a day, Venci likely never would have entered the contest.

“I had no idea my mother was going to enter me in the contest,” Venci said, who has attended parades with her family in the past. “I never thought I was going to be the Irish queen. My mom wanted me to go out for it for years but I always said ‘no’ because I didn’t have the time. My mom called me a few times the morning of the contest and encouraged me to go. I went and I won.”

While Venci may not have sought out the honor, she certainly appreciates the opportunity to hob-knob with some of the city’s biggest names. Her future, of course, is in medicine where she hopes to stretch her boundaries.

“I hope to do international medicine,” she said. “Perhaps a clinic in South America would be nice, and I’m fluent in Spanish.”