When you think of the Indianapolis 500, there’s no doubt you think of the “greatest spectacle in racing” and the number one sporting event in all the world, but before the race begins, meet the next generation of leaders who are 500 ambassadors and advocates for the 500 Festival Organization, including two Marian University students.
Marian students Mykah Coleman ’24 and Diamond Williams ’25 are among Indiana’s best and brightest selected from hundreds. Both say they were ecstatic to be chosen, but now, most importantly, they are instant role models.
“I think my main form of influencing young girls is the fact that I don’t look like your average 500 Princess,” said Coleman ’24, a Klipsch Educators College future educator. “Being Black and plus-sized, you don’t see those two factors together in one place much, especially holding a prestigious position as a 500 Festival Princess,” Coleman ’24 continued. “I want to show young girls they can be anything they want, no matter what anyone says, no matter what you look like. It takes intelligence and an excellent mindset, coupled with strength and determination.”
Williams ’25 a Leighton School of Nursing student, agrees. She says her community service led her to the 500 Festival Princess program. “I'm looking forward to continuing the path of serving my community. “It's not what’s on the outside which makes you beautiful, it starts within.”
The 2023 500 Festival Princess Program, presented by the National Bank of Indianapolis, is represented by young women from19 Indiana colleges and universities, from 21 Indiana cities and towns. Applying isn’t easy. Of the hundreds of applicants selected, only 33 make the cut, with their selection based on communications, academic performance, (all 33 princesses have an overall 3.71 grade point average), leadership, community service, and more.
“I’m happy to be different and stand out in my community, while also being nice to others and impacting them," said Williams ’25, “That’s what’s most meaningful.”
That attitude is what the 500 Festival Organization looks for. “We are proud to provide these 33 women with an unforgettable month of May experience where they get the opportunity to learn, lead, and give back to Indiana communities,” said 500 Festival President and CEO Bob Bryant.
As you may imagine, being named a 500 Festival Princess is tough work. In addition to college studies, activities, and local speaking engagements, the princesses will be given many opportunities to grow professionally, gain mentorship from the 500 Festival Board of Directors, and develop leadership skills within their communities. Each 500 Festival Princess also receives a $1,000 scholarship. Last year, Marian University's Madeline Worchester '23 and Katherine Grabowski '22 served as 500 Festival Princesses.
To request speaking opportunities, contact 500 Festival Vice President of Operations Laura Bliss at firstname.lastname@example.org