3 reasons why you need to apply to be a 500 Festival Princess

This might be the saddest thing I ever write but: after endless outreaches, early mornings and late nights, it’s almost time to wrap up my time as a 2019 500 Festival Princess and usher in the new era of Princesses who will come after me.

Which brings me to you. Hello, there. You’ve come here because you want to know why you should apply to be a Princess. Good. This is going to be fun. But before we begin, a word.

Being a Princess is not easy work. In this Princess Program, you don’t just put on pretty jackets and dresses and wave to the residents of Indiana and then ride around in a racecar. You have to earn your title. You need to be willing to put in hard work, dedication, communication and empathy into everything you do because the people you meet in this program will not only be unlike any other person you have met but the impact they will have on you will be deep. So, it’s kind of like anything else you want in life. If you want it, then you need to go after it. Let’s begin.

Do it for yourself (a.k.a. Personal Growth)

I never, in a million years, thought that being a Princess was for me. I’m not really the type I would put under “Princess” especially after seeing the years of photos and not really being able to picture myself in there. But thanks to Laura, the den mother of us all, I applied to be a princess literally the day applications were due. And wouldn’t you know, they wanted to interview me.

I can honestly say now, looking back, without the things that I experienced in the Princess Program, I wouldn’t be who I am today. It impacts you in ways I can’t explain. It really pushes you to identify what you really love about yourself, what you love about other strong women and what passions lie close to your heart. It gives you the opportunity to bask in your accomplishments and showcase to the entire state how homegrown awesome you are and show them this is what their daughters, nieces, etc. look up to at the end of the day. For me, it was especially unique, because throughout my time in Indiana, when it came to things like this, there’s always been a lack of color, a lack of diversity. The other girls were able to show girls that look like them they could do it and so could I, which, as other biracial or black girls from Indiana know, is a big deal.

The littlest babies from South View Elementary School in Muncie, IN

Do it for your community (a.k.a. Community Engagement)

The community I did it for was the state of Indiana. My community is…okay…but I had traveled around the state and seen all sorts of amazing people and I really wanted to make sure that I went to a bunch of different communities, not the same one or just my own. The main one I was active in was Muncie, where I go to school at Ball State. My community outreaches, which every princess does, focused on the Muncie school system and connecting with kids that had it harder than others.

The day I knew I was doing something right was the day four little black girls told me they wanted to be me when they grew up. I’ll never forget that moment. You get to meet new people, experience new cultures and rack up a ton of community service. It’s a win for everyone.

You also get to participate in a whole slew of things on race day but don’t ask me what those are. It’s better if it’s a surprise. It was my first ever Indy 500 as a princess and when I say I was blown away. Yeah. It was insane. I’ll be going every year now.


Do it for the connections (Both personal and professional)

Did I mention you meet 32 other awesome women besides yourself? Being a princess is like joining a family where everybody likes you no matter what. And we are all different, trust me. My class blended really well and we all got along really well too. We still talk almost everyday in the group chat. When I say those women become your sisters for four months, I mean it. They see you at your worst and at your very best. They see you in the morning with crazy hair and no deodorant and also in a ballgown. There is no in between. I could go on but just don’t let the thought of other accomplished women scare you. For once in your life, you’re not competing against each other. This is your one chance to bask in that.

The other big connection that impacted me was my mentor. Each princess is paired with one from the Board of Directors. I love my mentor, Tanya. We talk all the time and regularly meet to get coffee or food or whatever. She became my pseudo mom for those four months because you have various opportunities to interact with your mentor and I was lucky that mine was super involved. I literally love that women. The board even called me “Little Tanya” because we act exactly alike, just with a couple years difference.

Other than those two big connections, you get various other ones, like years and years of past princesses. Just by putting down that you were a 500 Festival Princess has people intrigued and interested and the title alone showcases how great you are.

There you have it. Three reasons why you should apply to the program. By coming here to read about it, you’ve taken the first step. I promise I won’t spam you about applying or anything like that so feel free to drop a comment below if you have any questions. I’ll keep reposting this every once in awhile over the next few months, just to make sure you don’t forget or you need a little nudge.

My advice would be take the leap. I did. And it was hands down, the best experience of my life thus far. Which for me (I’ve done some pretty cool stuff) is a pretty big deal.

Drink water. Stay Weird.

Justice xoxo

P.S. Here are the requirements to be a 500 Festival Princess. Go forth and prosper!

  • Claim legal residence in the state of Indiana and be able to demonstrate proof of residency via a valid Indiana driver’s license.
  • Presently be enrolled as a full-time student at a fully accredited college or university located in the state of Indiana; be a full-time student through the spring 2020 semester, taking a minimum of twelve (12) academic hours for undergraduate studies or a minimum of nine (9) academic hours for graduate studies; in good standing and not on scholastic probation.
  • Have maintained a cumulative college GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. If a candidate’s most recent semester’s GPA is above a 3.0, yet her cumulative GPA remains below a 3.0, the candidate will NOT be eligible for the 2020 500 Festival Princess Program.
  • Identify as female.
  • Be actively involved in at least one worthwhile extra-curricular college or community service activity.
  • Be 18 years of age by January 1, 2020, but no older than 23 years of age by May 31, 2020.
  • Candidates who have an immediate family member currently employed by the 500 Festival, currently serving on the 500 Festival Board of Directors, or currently employed by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are not subject to preferential treatment in the 2020 500 Festival Princess Program selection process.
  • Be able to attend and willing to make a 1-2 minute speech about herself at the 500 Festival Princess Reception on Saturday, April 18, 2020.
  • Attend all mandatory 500 Festival events during the month of May (unless participating in graduation ceremonies).
  • Be able to provide their own transportation and parking (when determined) to and from all 500 Festival events and activities.
  • Each candidate must submit an online application by 11:59 pm ET on Sunday, January 5, 2020.
  • Each candidate must be able to attend the first round of interviews for 500 Festival Princess selection, occurring on Saturday, January 25, 2020 in Indianapolis. Failure to attend the selection interview will result in disqualification.
  • 66 candidates will proceed to the second round of interviews for the 500 Festival Princess Program, held on Saturday, February 8, 2020 in downtown Indianapolis. Failure to attend the selection interview will result in disqualification.

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