3 county women selected as 500 Festival princesses

HANCOCK COUNTY — Three college students from Hancock County are Indianapolis 500 Festival Princesses.

The princesses are:

Lauren Bryant, Greenfield, a graduate of Greenfield-Central High School and a senior at the University of Indianapolis majoring in biology and psychology.

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Olga Vlashyn, New Palestine, a graduate of New Palestine High School and a graduate student at Purdue University pursuing her doctorate of pharmacy.

Hallie Wright, Greenfield, a graduate of Eastern Hancock High School and a senior at Purdue University majoring in plant genetics, breeding and biotechnology.

The 500 Festival Princess Program celebrates Indiana’s most civic-minded, academically driven college-aged women, according to a news release.

Serving as a 500 Festival Princess provides young women with opportunities for leadership, networking and professional development. The 500 Festival Princesses will participate in the 500 Festival Leadership Development Program, which empowers participants to make an impact within their community and Indiana, according to a news release.

“With more than 50 years of history, the program provides each young woman an extraordinary experience,” said Kathy Cabello, 500 Festival board member and princess program committee co-chair, in a news release. “The 500 Festival is proud to guide Indiana’s next generation of leaders.”

Each 500 Festival Princess will receive a $1,000 scholarship, made possible in part by the 500 Festival Foundation. Princesses also get involved in statewide community outreach programs, volunteering at 500 Festival events and participating in various Indianapolis Motor Speedway functions, including the pre-race ceremonies and Victory Circle celebration for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Indianapolis 500 Festival Princesses are selected from hundreds of applicants based upon their communication skills, commitment to service, leadership, scholarship and professionalism, according to the 500 Festival website.

The 2018 500 Festival Princesses represent 14 Indiana colleges and universities and 21 cities and towns across the state. The 2018 500 Festival Queen Scholar will be announced on May 19 during the 500 Festival Breakfast at the Brickyard. The queen will receive an additional $1,500 scholarship.

Hancock County was represented in 2015 by Kylee Stewart, a Mt. Vernon High School graduate who at the time was an IUPUI junior studying journalism. Last year, Ashley Spears of Fortville and Allie Watson of New Palestine were among the more than 30 young women chosen to be a part of the Indy 500 tradition.

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Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or rhatcher@greenfieldreporter.com.