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Modeling community service for the next generation as a 500 Festival Princess

Emily Bultinck, junior, biomedical engineering ’23, is one of five Purdue women to be part of the 2022 500 Festival Princess program.

Emily Bultinck, junior, biomedical engineering ’23, is one of five Purdue women to be part of the 2022 500 Festival Princess program. (Purdue University photo/John Underwood)

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.

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