Crowning Glory

Shaina Miller is named a 2024 Festival Princess for the Indianapolis 500.

Part of the lead-up to “the Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” the Indianapolis 500 Festival Princess Program functions as an ambassador program, choosing 33 young women to represent the 500 Festival and the Indianapolis 500. Created in 1959, it is a very competitive program, says Laura Bliss, the princess program’s vice president of operations. “Each year, we receive hundreds of applications for 33 coveted spots.”

This year, Shaina Miller, an Evansville native and Signature School graduate, has been selected as a 500 Festival Princess.

“I applied to the program because I wanted to give back to my community,” Miller says. As a princess, she will work as an ambassador for Evansville and her university – Muncie, Indiana’s Ball State University, where she is a sophomore studying political science with a pre-law designation and a minor in sustainability.

On campus, Miller serves as vice president of the Kappa Delta Sorority, a senator in Ball State’s Student Government Association, and chair of the Community and Environmental Affairs Committee. She also earned an Undergraduate Research Fellowship through Ball State’s Honors College, through which she develops virtual aids to help diversify the curriculum in the Honors College.

“I am also a 2024 Democracy Fellow, so I help lead a voter information campaign on campus,” she says.

For Miller, volunteering time to her community is important.

“I believe in cultivating the Hoosier spirit through giving back,” she says. “Through the 500 Festival Princess Program, I can create a positive impact on my state while pursuing this belief.”

Miller’s biggest responsibility as a princess will be participating in the 500 Festival’s statewide outreach program.

“Princesses visit elementary school classrooms, nursing homes, community events, and everything in between to bring the spirit of the 500 Festival and Indy 500 to these audiences,” Bliss explains. “It’s a way to bring the fun and festivities of the month of May and Indy 500 to everyone – whether you’re attending the Indy 500 or not.”

Miller plans her own outreach events and already has completed a few. At the beginning of March, she visited the third-grade classes at Castle Elementary School in Newburgh, Indiana, to read them a story about the Indianapolis 500. She’s also volunteered with the League of Women Voters, helping with voter registration.

Princesses also are eligible for the annual 500 Festival Queen Scholar award. Only one of the 2024 Princesses will receive this scholarship. This year’s award went to Lissania Perez Diaz, a 500 princess from Indianapolis, on May 18 during the 500 Festival Breakfast at the Brickyard, presented by Midwestern Engineers, Inc.

The 108th Indy 500 will race May 26 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Race time is 11:45 a.m. Central Daylight Time; pre-race coverage on Evansville’s WFIE-NBC14 starts at 10 a.m.

Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti joined Tucker Publishing Group in September 2022 as a staff writer. She graduated from Gettysburg College in 2020 with a bachelors degree in English. A Connecticut native, Maggie has ridden horses for 15 years and has hunt seat competition experience on the East Coast.

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