33 Indiana Women Selected as 2021 500 Festival Princesses 

33 Indiana Women Selected as 2021 500 Festival Princesses 

500 Festival Princesses will serve as ambassadors of the 500 Festival and will participate in leadership development and community outreaches. 


INDIANAPOLIS (February 24, 2021) – The 500 Festival, a nonprofit organization providing life-enriching events and programs that celebrate the spirit and legacy of the Indianapolis 500®, today announces the 33 Indiana women selected to serve as 2021 500 Festival Princesses. The 2021 500 Festival Princesses represent 16 Indiana colleges and universities and 21 cities and towns across the state. With a cumulative GPA of 3.74, this year’s 500 Festival Princesses were selected from hundreds of applicants based on communication skills, academic performance, community involvement, commitment to service, and leadership.  


The 500 Festival Princess Program, presented by The National Bank of Indianapolis, has a long history of celebrating Indiana’s most civic-minded, academically driven young women. Serving as a 500 Festival Princess provides young women with countless opportunities for leadership and professional development.  


The 500 Festival Princesses will virtually participate in the 500 Festival Leadership Development Program, presented by BKD, empowering participants to make a profound impact within their community and Indiana. In addition, each 500 Festival Princess will receive a $1,000 scholarship, made possible by Marlyne Sexton, an Indianapolis philanthropist and president of The Sexton Companies, and the 500 Festival Foundation. Since the program’s launch, more than 2,000 Indiana women have experienced the honor of serving as a 500 Festival Princess.  


The 500 Festival is honored with the support and partnership of The National Bank of Indianapolis as the new presenting partner of the 500 Festival Princess Program. Throughout its history, The National Bank of Indianapolis has supported organizations and programming that strengthen communities.  


“We are pleased for the opportunity to support these outstanding young women as they further develop their leadership skills, said Ann Merkel, The National Bank of Indianapolis chief market development officer. We trust that their experiences in this program will also deepen their personal commitment to serving their own communities.” 


The 2021 500 Festival Princesses were selected through a competitive process consisting of a written application and virtual interviews. This year’s 500 Festival Princesses represent a diverse group of women with an eclectic array of studies ranging from civil engineering to arts administration to cybersecurity to international relations 


“We are thrilled to be able to provide the 2021 500 Festival Princesses with the experience to serve the mission of the 500 Festival in a way that meets the needs of our current climate and prioritizes the health and safety of our community,” said Bob Bryant, 500 Festival president and CEO. In a time when giving back is so important, we are proud of the transition we have made to continue to provide these opportunities. The National Bank of Indianapolis shares our commitment to enhancing the lives of our community through service and leadership development and we’re excited to further our partnership with them.” 


This spring, 500 Festival Princesses will experience various virtual opportunities to engage in professional development, create lifelong connections with business and community leaders, and gain mentorship from the 500 Festival Board of Directors. The 2021 500 Festival Princesses will also participate in virtual outreach opportunities including the 500 Festival’s statewide outreach program, which educates Hoosiers about the history and legacy of the Indianapolis 500, the 500 Festival, and our various events and programs. Each year, 500 Festival Princesses conduct more than 1,500 community outreaches impacting more than 50,000 people, expanding the celebration and impact of the Indianapolis 500 in a meaningful way. 


The 2021 500 Festival Princesses, hometown, high school, college or university, and area of study are as follows (in alphabetical order):  


Brittany Alvarez, Lewisvillea graduate of Tri JuniorSenior High School and a senior at Holy Cross College majoring in liberal studies and civil engineering 

Sienna Bates, Bloomington, a graduate of Bloomington High School South and a graduate student at Purdue University studying cyber forensics 

Sunnie Berning, Evansville, a graduate of William Henry Harrison High School and a sophomore at Ball State University majoring in visual communications 

Miranda Bieghler, Plainfield, a graduate of South Putnam High School and a junior at Manchester University majoring in elementary education 

Alyssa Brinkman, Milan, a graduate of Milan High School and a sophomore at Ball State University majoring in business analytics and logistics and supply chain management.   

Alie Brown, New Palestine, a graduate of New Palestine High School and a senior at the University of Indianapolis majoring in marketing and supply chain management 

Lily Casavant, Evansville, a graduate of Signature School and a senior at the University of Southern Indiana majoring in public relations and German.   

Samantha Coffing, Lafayette, a graduate of William Henry Harrison High School and a senior at Indiana State University majoring in public relations 

Elizabeth Cornejo, Merrillville, a graduate of Andrean High School and a junior at Indiana University-Purdue University (IUPUI) majoring in civic leadership.  

Sarah Downing, Westfield, a graduate of St. Theodore Guerin High School and a senior at Marian University majoring in biology 

Isra Haider, Indianapolis, a graduate of North Central High School and a senior at Indiana University-Purdue University (IUPUI) majoring in biology and sociology 

Mikaela Jennings, West Lafayette, a graduate of William Henry Harrison High School and a senior at Indiana University majoring in accounting and finance 

Dayna Kyler, Columbia City, a graduate of Columbia City High School and a senior at Purdue University majoring in marketing and agricultural marketing 

Autumn Lawhorn, Richmond, a graduate of Northeastern High School and a graduate student at Butler University studying pharmacy 

Madeline MacKinnon, Indianapolis, a homeschool graduate and a sophomore at Indiana Wesleyan University majoring in community development 

Elizabeth Martine, Zionsvillegraduate of Zionsville Community High School and a sophomore at Indiana University majoring in entrepreneurship and corporate innovations paired with international and foreign affairs.   

Hannah McGee, Milroy, a graduate of Rushville Consolidated High School and a senior at Butler University majoring in strategic communication. 

Andrea Peterson, Kokomo, a graduate of Western High School and a junior at Indiana University majoring in finance and business analytics. 

Victoria Petriskey, Whiteland, a graduate of Whiteland Community High School and a senior at Ball State University majoring in history.  

Haley Phemister, Westfield, a graduate of Westfield High School and senior at Butler University majoring in arts administration and Spanish 

Rachel PlossIndianapolis, a graduate of Winamac Community High School and a senior at Indiana University-Purdue University (IUPUI) majoring in philanthropic studies 

Janae Quinn, Russiaville, a graduate of Western High School and a junior at Indiana University Kokomo majoring in elementary education 

MaKenzie Quissell, Plymouth, a graduate of Plymouth High School and a junior at Indiana State University majoring in finance 

Claire Rightley, Avon, a graduate of Avon High School and a junior at Purdue University majoring in cybersecurity 

Elizabeth Score, Noblesville, a graduate of Northpoint Homeschool Classes and a sophomore at Indiana University majoring in law and public policy 

Carly Smith, Lebanon, a graduate of Western Boone Jr./Sr. High School and a senior at Purdue University majoring in educational studies and anthropology. 

Aditi Sood, Kokomo, a graduate of Kokomo High School and a senior at the University of Evansville majoring in biology 

Meridian Stowers, Tipton, a graduate of Tipton High School and a sophomore at the University of Indianapolis majoring in psychology with a concentration in pre-occupational therapy.   

Grace Todd, Carmel, a graduate of Carmel High School and a junior at DePauw University majoring in computer science. 

Rebecca Townsend, Carmel, a graduate of Carmel High School and a senior at Indiana University majoring in economic consulting 

Kayla Vasilko, Crown Point, a homeschool graduate and a senior at Purdue University Northwest majoring in English writing. 

Karlye Vonderwell, Vincennes, a graduate of Vincennes Lincoln High School and a senior at the University of Indianapolis majoring in international relations and political science 

Gloria Xue, Carmel, a graduate of Carmel High School and a graduate student at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) majoring in cellular and integrative physiology.   


The 2021 Marlyne Sexton 500 Festival Queen Scholar will be announced during the month of MayThe 500 Festival Queen Scholar will receive an additional $1,500 scholarship. Details regarding the date of the Queen Scholar announcement will be communicated as soon as they are finalized. 


As representatives of the 500 Festival, Princesses play a crucial role in the execution of the 500 Festival’s mission to produce life-enriching events and programs that celebrate the spirit and legacy of the Indianapolis 500 and foster a positive impact on the city of Indianapolis and state of Indiana. To request a visit from a 500 Festival Princess click HERE.   


Support of the 500 Festival Princess Program is provided byThe National Bank of IndianapolisMarlyne Sexton, BKDKhamis Fine Jewelers, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Vera Bradley, and the 500 Festival Foundation. 


To learn more about the 500 Festival Princess Program, please visit www.500festival.com/princessprogram or search #PrincessProgram on social media 


EDITOR’S NOTE: Individual and group photos can be downloaded HERE. 


About the 500 Festival 

Founded in 1957, the 500 Festival is a not-for-profit organization that produces more than 50 life-enriching events and programs that celebrate the spirit and legacy of the Indianapolis 500 and foster a positive impact on the city of Indianapolis and state of Indiana. One of the largest festivals in the nation, each year more than half a million people attend an event or program produced by the 500 Festival. Since its founding, the 500 Festival has contributed more than $500 million in economic value to Indianapolis. To learn more about the 500 Festival, please visit www.500festival.com, follow us on TwitterFacebook or Instagram 


About The National Bank of Indianapolis 

The National Bank of Indianapolis, founded in 1993, is locally owned and operated with 13 banking centers in the Greater Indianapolis area. The bank offers Private Banking, Wealth Management, Corporate and Nonprofit banking services with a personalized touch. The rare combination of superior personal service, local decision-making and modern technology has propelled The National Bank of Indianapolis to become the 11th largest Indiana bank in the state. 



Media Contact: Helen Khamis, 500 Festival  

317.914.4817 | hkhamis@500festival.com