UIndy 500 Festival princess pursues outreach opportunities

Madi Kovacs dreamed of becoming a 500 Festival Princess as a little girl, but it was when she learned of the program’s outreach component as a University of Indianapolis student that she knew she truly wanted to participate. 

Madi (Madison) Kovacs presented podium medals at the Indiana Special Olympics Youth Basketball state finals in March 2017. (Photo by D. Todd Moore)

Madi (Madison) Kovacs presented podium medals at the Indiana Special Olympics Youth Basketball state finals in March 2017. (Photo by D. Todd Moore)


While you might know them as the ambassadors of the 500 Festival during the Month of May in Indianapolis, the 33 Festival princesses dedicate several months to giving back as part of their role. A cumulative GPA of 3.0 is also required, along with strong communication skills and community involvement.  

Kovacs is majoring in psychology pre-occupational therapy with a minor in gender studies. She will graduate with a bachelor of science in 2018 and a doctorate in occupational therapy in 2020. Her role as 500 Festival Princess, which involves conducting outreach programs with children, ties into Kovacs’ long-term career goal of becoming a pediatric occupational therapist.

“I will also participate in the 500 Festival Leadership Development Program, presented by BKD, which will help not only with my long-term goals, but also my short-term goals and leadership positions at UIndy,” Kovacs said.

Kovacs also serves as a Greyhound ambassador in the Office of Admissions, as well as a presidential ambassador, which involved acting as a tour guide to campus visitors and participating in the Dance Marathon. She’s a resident assistant in Cravens Hall, a role that she loves. She has served as president of the Catholic Student Association.

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

Learn more about the 500 Festival Princess Program.

500 Festival Princesses are involved with the festival’s statewide community outreach programs including visits to community centers, hometown schools and local hospitals, volunteering at 500 Festival events and participating in various Indianapolis Motor Speedway functions including the pre-race ceremonies for the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500.

“I am extremely excited for the statewide outreach programs, because I get to volunteer and show off what a great organization the 500 Festival is,” Kovacs said.

Kovacs credits her University of Indianapolis experience as crucial to developing skills for her future career.

“My UIndy experience has been amazing. Professors are always available when I have questions about my future career and what steps I should take to achieve my goals,” she said.

With more than 200 hours of volunteer time and counting, giving back is built into Kovacs’ DNA.

“My community has helped to make me who I am today and I am forever grateful for that. UIndy’s motto ‘Education for Service’ has really impacted my time at the university,” Kovacs said.

Written by Sara Galer, Senior Communications Specialist, University of Indianapolis. Contact newsdesk@UIndy.edu with your campus news.