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: Emily Bultinck shows that being Indy 500 royalty is about more than a crown — it’s about leadership
I know that 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 what it means to be a princess.
I fell in love with community service my freshman year. I was involved in a program through the College of Engineering called EPICS, which is Engineering Projects in Community Service. I had the opportunity to be the design lead for our team during the second semester. And we were building an assistive fishing device for a 7-year-old boy who had mobility issues, but he wanted to go fishing with his dad. That really started my love for human-centered design and for bringing those principles of community service into engineering.
I recently went to a local Girl Scout troop in Lafayette as part of the 500 Festival Princess Program, and we talked about what it means to give back to your community. And then I put on the crown and sash, and all their heads turned.
It was great to engage some younger girls and talk about what it means to be a princess, and to kind of reframe the mindset that a princess isn’t just somebody who wears a pretty crown and stands up in front of people. But a princess is someone who serves and someone who gives back and who loves her community and is really making others’ lives better.
It was great to engage some younger girls and talk about what it means to be a 500 Festival princess, and to kind of reframe the mindset that a princess isn’t just somebody who wears a pretty crown and stands up in front of people.Emily Bultinck
Junior, biomedical engineering, ’23
This student spotlight is part of a special series highlighting Purdue’s many connections to the Indy 500. Thank you to Emily Bultinck (junior, biomedical engineering, ’23) 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.
Empowering Indiana women through civic engagement
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. I did a lot of work with the Special …
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.
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 …