February 21, 2022. Louisville, KY. – Louisville has new royalty this morning, as the Kentucky Derby Festival introduces the 2022 Royal Court. Five young women have been selected to serve as Princesses for this year’s Festival. The Court will act as ambassadors for the Festival and the community as they attend more than 70 events this spring. The Royal Court is coordinated by The Fillies, Inc., a volunteer group that works closely with the Festival.
The members of this year’s court are:
Nancy Ngo of Louisville, KY – Nancy, 23-years-old, is a 2nd-year graduate student at the University of Louisville studying Public Health with a concentration in Health Policy. She is the current Director of Professional Development in the Graduate Student Council, a Trustee’s Scholar, and has earned Departmental Honors in the Psychology Department for successful defense of her thesis.
Jimi Porter of Louisville, KY – Jimi, 21-years-old, is a senior at the University of Louisville majoring in both Computer Information Systems and Marketing. She is a Woodford R. Porter Scholar, a dedicated student worker to the Admissions Office, President’s Office, and Campus Housing Department at UofL, and is heavily involved in extracurriculars such as being a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.
Sarah Rhodes of Louisville, KY – Sarah, 20-years-old, is a Junior at Northern Kentucky University majoring in Nursing. She is a recipient of several academic scholarships and a peer ambassador to end college campus violence. She also participates in theatre productions at her college and has played the harp for seven years.
Molly Sullivan of Campbellsville, KY – Molly, 22-years-old, is a senior at the University of Kentucky majoring in agricultural economics, marketing, and management. She is a Delta Gamma, the Director of Public Relations for the University of Kentucky’s Student Philanthropy Board, and is the founder of her own organization, Sunshine!
Haven Wolfe of Butler, KY – Haven, 20-years-old, is a sophomore at Northern Kentucky University with a triple major in Communication Studies, Journalism and Electronic Media and Broadcasting. She is a David and Ruth Iler Scholar, a College of Informatics Ambassador, and an advocate for Ronald McDonald House Charities all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.
Two alternates were also chosen – Lauren Carter, of Lexington, KY, a Junior at the University of Kentucky Lewis Honors College, was chosen as the first alternate. Olivia Andrews of New Albany, IN, a Senior at the University of Louisville was chosen as the second alternate. They will become Princesses if one of the other women is unable to serve.
They were selected after attending final judging with 25 other finalist candidates. There were nearly 80 original applicants for the Royal Court Program, representing different colleges and universities from around Kentucky and the region. All the applicants went through preliminary judging in November.
One of the five will be crowned the Derby Festival Queen by a spin-of-the-wheel at the annual Fillies Derby Ball on April 9th at The Galt House. Each woman will receive a $2000 scholarship ($1000 from the Fillies and $1000 from the Kentucky Derby Festival Foundation).
Candidates for the Princess Program must maintain a minimum 3.0 grade-point average and are selected by a panel of three out-of-state judges. Criteria for selection includes knowledge of the Derby Festival, poise, intelligence, personality and campus and community involvement.
The first Derby Festival Princess was crowned in 1957, the second year of the Festival. Previous Princesses have included former Kentucky Governor Martha Layne Collins and the late Gail Gorski, the first female pilot ever hired by United Airlines.
Since 1956, the Derby Festival has worked to bring the community together in celebration. The Festival is an independent community organization supported by 4,000 volunteers, 400 businesses and civic groups, Pegasus Pin sponsorships and event participation. It entertains more than 1.5 million people every spring and has a local economic impact of more than $127 million. This involvement has made the Festival the largest single attended event in Kentucky and one of the leading community celebrations in the world.