By John Ostapkovich

HAVERTOWN, Pa. (CBS) – A 27-year-old Havertown woman is representing Philadelphia in a competition that celebrates Irish heritage all over the world. 

The annual Rose of Tralee competition is a highlight of summer in Ireland, and on August 17th the 30 finalists for this year’s crown will begin what amounts to a weeklong festival, following a week touring the country. 

Elizabeth Spellman, who has already worked in an orphanage in Honduras and is now a social worker at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, says this is part of her growth.

“It’s another opportunity for me to live outside of the box and I think that’s why I love being a social worker, ’cause you’re forced to look and listen and live outside of the box so that you can help your clients, but I also think if I didn’t live outside the box I would have never gotten to Ireland and I would never had this opportunity.”

Spellman says this would never have been on her radar if it weren’t for a good friends of hers, Adrienne Hussey.

“Even though I grew up loving my Irish heritage, I knew nothing about the Rose of Tralee until I met Adrienne.  We became great friends in grad school and from the moment she came back from this experience in 2010, she was on my back and she was like, oh, you’d love it.  It would be great. What a wonderful experience.”

After Adrienne died suddenly, Spellman decided to give it a go.