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Molly Theodoroff: Strawberry Princess, Robotics Buff, Future Scientist

When Molly Theodoroff moved to Oregon from California, she didn’t know anyone, so when the Strawberry Princesses came to her school, they left a lasting impact.

“Seeing that these girls were so competent and passionate about what they do and how excited the (kids) were to see them,” Theodoroff said, “I was like, ‘I wish people were that excited to see me.’”

Theodoroff’s favorite part of being part of the court is forming deep community connections, and now Theodoroff has the chance to inspire a new generation of little girls to be Strawberry Princesses.

“If you look (in detail), a lot of (them) are the girls who sit alone and aren’t really sitting in those giant groups of people,” she said. “But you can see that spark in those specific people.”

When Theodoroff’s friend Mariah Dahlgren was a Strawberry Princess, she gave Theodoroff the support she needed to be one too.

“Throughout everything, she’s just supported me with who I am and helped me with my confidence,” Theodoroff said. “I joined the robotics team because of her, I applied for Strawberry Princess because of her; she’s kind of been my backbone with all of it.”

As for the Strawberry Festival, Theodoroff’s favorite part is the rides and the snacks.

Outside of her duties as a Strawberry Princess, Theodoroff works at Cafe Rock and has an interest in robotics. She has been on her school’s robotics team for six years now and plans to pursue bachelor degrees in marine biology and engineering at Oregon State University, where she ultimately hopes to get a doctorate degree.

“I want to go for two (degrees), marine biology and mechanical engineering so I find out that maybe is not my cup of tea, I always have that backup plan,” Theodoroff explained. “I’ve known I wanted to be a marine biologist for about four years now, but you never really know till it happens.”

OSU offers highly ranked programs in both biology – sending doctoral students to study a species of choice – and engineering, which Theodoroff said she’s had a connection with the school through the robotics team already.

Theodoroff wants to specialize in studying sharks, or possibly other often overlooked marine life like the octopi, squids, sharks and other small sea creatures that live in the kelp forests. She pointed out that people tend to think about what’s in front of them, and the ocean can be “out of sight out of mind” at times.

“There’s always that percentage that makes it worth it, being able to go down (into the ocean), being able to connect with the ocean creatures and whatnot,” Theodoroff said. “Not (a lot of) people stick their heads in the water. We see the forest fires, but we don’t really see the ocean and the pollution and even (what we do see) is only like 2% of what’s happening.”

Theodoroff’s dad, TJ Theodoroff, who proposed to her mom with a juice box, is one of her favorite people. Even though he was in the Air Force and Army and often busy with work, he would always make time for her and take her on daddy-daughter dates and dances.

Following some health issues, Theodoroff’s dad retired and moved the family to the Lebanon area. Though he was dealing with his illness, she said he still became a mentor for the robotics team so she could join early. Despite losing multiple family members, Theodoroff said he never let anything bring him down and still manages to “lift everybody else up.”

“He’s always been my biggest supporter,” Theodoroff said. “He’s been my backbone. He’s always supported me and what I want to do rather than trying to make me somebody that I’m not…And then with everything he’s been through, he still manages to be his best self and to be a good, kind person; he’s my best friend.”

Theodoroff has lots of things on her bucket list, including going on an Alaskan cruise with her dad to see the northern lights; she also wants to go bungee jumping and skydiving and hike huge mountains. For now, she likes to travel within the US to see her family members, and brings her boyfriend along on hikes and visits to the aquarium.

“I want to go to Hawaii so bad, for the marine life specifically,” Theodoroff added. “Even Florida’s waters, I don’t want to go to Florida for Florida, I want to go to Florida for the water, for the little creatures.”

Mom Brooklynn Theodoroff, who runs Feral & Free Creations – a design business – out of their home and went to school for graphic design, is helping design the Strawberry Princess parade float.

While there’s a lot Theodoroff likes about Lebanon, she likes the safety and connection of the small town environment, especially having come from the Sacramento area in California  with her parents and two younger siblings.

“It’s so cool, just the support of everybody and the positiveness of it all,” Theodoroff said. “But also, downtown is my favorite because of the history. There’s so much personality in those buildings.”