The 500 Festival Princess Program celebrates Indiana’s most civic-minded and academically driven young women. For decades, exceptional female Purdue students have served as ambassadors of the 500 Festival, participating in service opportunities in their hometowns and Greater Lafayette in the lead-up to race day. In total, 33 princesses — matching the number of drivers in the Indy 500 — represent a variety of colleges and universities from across Indiana. Meet the five young Boilermakers representing Purdue as part of this year’s 500 Festival Princess Program. This story is part of a monthlong, behind-the-scenes look at Purdue’s storied history with the Indy 500.
Purdue at the Indy 500: For sophomore Emily Deldar, serving as a 500 Festival princess is another platform for community service
The 500 Festival Princess Program program is dedicated to celebrating 33 civic-minded, college-aged women every year to represent the festival. The program really stuck out to me because I’ve always been really inspired by working in my community on service projects, doing leadership through service.
When I was in middle school choir, I was assigned to be a helper and mentor to a student with Down syndrome. I ended up getting really close with his family. Ever since, I was drawn to that population. I did a lot of work with Special Olympics in high school, too.
That definitely inspired me to want to continue working with children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I’ve also always been interested in health care, so speech language pathology is just kind of a way to combine those passions.
I’m able to work with children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. But I’m also able to work in a hospital setting with patients who have been through a traumatic injury or a stroke or another occurrence like that. It gives me the best of both worlds.
Through my experiences, I have learned to understand the importance of inclusion and empowerment. The best leaders are people who lift others up and strive to make everyone feel seen. The Princess Program empowers women like me to be able to serve. It gives us the platform to make meaningful change throughout our communities.
The 500 Festival Princess Program really stuck out to me because I’ve always been inspired by working in my community on service projects, doing leadership through service.Emily Deldar
speech, language and hearing sciences; psychological sciences, ’24
This student spotlight is part of a special series highlighting Purdue’s many connections to the Indy 500. Thank you to sophomore Emily Deldar (speech, language, and hearing sciences; and psychological sciences, ’24) for sharing your story with us.
Playing a part in an Indy 500 tradition, year after year
As a member of the Purdue “All-American” Marching band, Krupa Patel enjoys coming back to the Indy 500, a tradition held for over 100 years.
Redefining what it means to be a princess
I want to tell young girls: Whatever you want to put your mind to, you can achieve it. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. As a female police officer, I’m going to have to work 20 times as …
Taking every opportunity to shape the future, empower others
In a world of influencers and models, you look at these people and you think, “I want to look like that.” But that’s not how it is with the 500 Festival Princess Program.
Becoming a part of Indianapolis 500 and Purdue history
I went to the Indy 500 when I was younger, but I didn’t know I was hearing the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band the whole time until I was able to be a part of it in college as a Golduster.
Seeing a community come together for race day
It’s the coolest moment when we turn the corner of the Indy 500 track, and you see all of the people in the stands lined up, and you are the first thing they’re all looking at.
Modeling community service for the next generation as a 500 Festival Princess
The 500 Festival Princess Program started out as a pageant, but there’s so much more to what it means to be a leader and a princess. I fell in love with community service my freshman year building an assistive fishing …
Combining student leadership and showmanship at the Indianapolis 500
At the Indy 500, a lot of the drum major’s role is the showmanship of it all — wearing the big, tall bear hats, leading the band through the parades, but there is also the logistics.
Building and celebrating a passion for community
Being from a small town, there’s not a whole lot of diversity. There wasn’t anybody that looked like me. I got pointed out a lot, and I just knew from a very early age I was not the same as …