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Kentucky Derby Court

Prospect’s Srinivasan
to vie for crown at Fillies Ball

She will take part in several
Derby events as part of court

By Lori Crowe
Contributing Writer

PROSPECT, Ky. (February 2006) – There is a princess in Prospect. Sowmya Srinivasan was crowned one of this year’s Derby Festival’s princesses. You may think her story would read as “Once upon a time five new princesses were crowned as part of the annual Derby Festival tradition. Waving wistfully, these new friends went to their royal chambers to wait for something wonderful to happen.”
Not quite.

Kentucky Derby Court

Photo provided

Kentucky Derby Festival Princesses
(from left) are Sowmya Srinivasan,
Tara Mattingly, Amelia Anne Martin,
Stephanie Ann Pieper and Patti Jo Grice

You will find no magic wands or clever mice in this story. These young women are on the ball, not just going to one. Srinivasan was chosen from a group of 60 applicants and 25 finalists. The others selected to the court are Patti Jo Grice of Louisville, Amelia Anne Martin of Richmond, Ky., Stephanie Ann Pieper and Tara Mattingly, both of Louisville. Candidates were required to be enrolled at a college, university or professional school and maintain a minimum 3.0 grade-point average. Applicants were also asked to provide two letters of recommendation.
Srinivisan was crowned one of this year’s princesses the day before her 21st birthday. “It was the best birthday present ever.” She added, “I by no means, planned my activities around becoming a Derby princess. It’s more like an added reward for doing well in school and all my hard work.”
According to Srinivasan, the judging process was difficult and consisted of several interviews. A panel of three judges asked a series of questions regarding personal accomplishments as well as Louisville and Derby history. “They wanted to know how articulate we were and how involved we were in our school and community.”
The Princess Program, coordinated by The Fillies, Inc. is not a beauty pageant. Princesses are selected based on campus and community involvement, intelligence, personality, poise and even knowledge of the Derby Festival itself. These women will serve the important role of ambassador for Louisville and the Derby Festival. They will represent the community to thousands of city guests, many prominent, welcomed every spring.
Princesses are in good company. Past princesses have included Former Kentucky Gov. Martha Layne Collins, who was not only the states first female governor, but also the first to be crowned Derby Queen. Another outstanding Derby princess was Fail Gorski, the first female pilot to be hired by United Airlines.
Srinivasan herself is a community jewel. A senior majoring in Pre-Med and Music at the University of Louisville, she is a Guaranteed Entrance into Medical School Scholar and has played the violin for 14 years. She was U of L’s 2004 homecoming queen and a Miss Cardinal. Her school commitments include being a Student Government officer and Resident Director for three school properties.

Sowmya Srinivasan

Sowmya Srinivasan

Coinciding with the Princess Program’s emphasis on community service, Srinivasan works with several different volunteer groups on campus and on her own. She is involved in a dance marathon at the University of Louisville to benefit the Children’s Hospital Foundation. And recently, Srinivasan organized a Hurricane Katrina disaster relief project with the American Red Cross and raised more than $1,600.
In between the more than 70 Derby Festival events in a two week period, the princesses are asked to speak about volunteering in local schools.
“I would love to go back to the schools and encourage them. You have to realize that for a lot of the younger kids they want to be princesses and they think you’re the real thing,” said Srinivasan.
“I love talking to people.
I’m just going to encourage them to go to college and give back to their communities. I’m very excited. It’s a definite perk. It’s not just about the events; there are a lot of things that we get to do that’s really hands-on.”
Magic or no magic, the clock will strike 12. Srinivasan will graduate this semester with Commencement a week after the Derby.
She is planning to complete her classes and exams two weeks early and transition in the new Student Government officer before the festival begins.
“I’ll be organized and on top of things. It’s going to be a whirlwind. You have to fit it all in with school and everything else. That’s one of the reasons they judge you on all sorts of things like scholastics and community involvement. If you are capable of balancing that, they know you can handle this.”
She said she is looking forward to attending every event, even the optional ones beyond the 70 required. Srinivasan knows an opportunity like this does not come often and hopes to make the most of it. She is delighted to know her parents are just as excited as she is and are planning to participate in all the activities available to them. “They are just so, so excited to do things they may never have the chance to do again.”
Like all fairytale princesses, the Derby princesses will also attend a grand ball. The Fillies will hold the Derby Ball on April 21 at the Galt House East Grand Ballroom. That evening, the Derby Festival Queen will be crowned by the traditional spin-of-the wheel.
Srinivasan added, “I don’t want to miss anything. Because we really enjoy what we are doing, I’m sure it will be well worth it, even if we are a little tired.”
After weeks of Derby festivities, these princesses may find themselves Sleeping Beauties.

 For more information on the Kentucky Derby Festival, call the Bellsouth Derby Festival Hotline at (502) 540-1127 or visit: www.kdf.org.

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