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Nursing major represents IU Kokomo as 500 Festival Princess

When the engines roar to life and the green flag waves at Sunday’s Indianapolis 500, one Indiana University Kokomo student will have a front row seat for the action.

Junior Delaney Zeck will attend as one of 33 500 Festival Princesses, chosen to be ambassadors for the 500 Festival, their hometowns, and their colleges and universities.

May 22, 2024
Three women pose for a picture
Delaney Zeck, right, with Janae Quinn, B.S. ’22, 2021 Indianapolis 500 Festival Queen Scholar; and Sarah Fisher.

KOKOMO, Ind. — When the engines roar to life and the green flag waves at Sunday’s Indianapolis 500, one Indiana University Kokomo student will have a front row seat for the action.

Junior Delaney Zeck will attend as one of 33 500 Festival Princesses, chosen to be ambassadors for the 500 Festival, their hometowns, and their colleges and universities.

“I wanted to be able to give back because so many people have given to me,” said Zeck, a nursing major. “I got to meet a 500 Festival princess when I was super little. I had always wanted to be an ambassador like that for young girls.”

The 2024 princesses represent 18 Indiana colleges and universities and 23 cities and towns statewide. With a cumulative GPA of 3.74, the group was selected from hundreds of applicants based on communication skills, academic performance, community involvement, commitment to service, and leadership.

The young women serve their communities through the festival’s state outreach program, educating Hoosiers about the history of the 500 Festival and legacy of the Indianapolis 500. They also participate in a leadership development program and receive a $1,000 scholarship

Zeck believes her campus and community involvement helped her stand out in the selection process. The Galveston resident is a nurse leader for her class and is involved in the Student Nurses Association. She’s also a campus tutor and works as a patient care tech at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital. This summer she will be a camp nurse at The Ark Christian Ministries at Converse.

As a princess, she’s toured IU Health Riley Hospital for Children and Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital to meet with patients, volunteered at the Eastern Elementary Kindy 500, and visited local nursing homes.

“I’ve been able to network with a lot of different people and make connections at these events,” she said, adding that she exchanged emails with leaders at both hospitals in case she chooses pediatric nursing as her career.

Zeck also led visits with area school children at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, teaching them the parts of a race car and talking to them about the princess program. In particular, she talked about not giving up on dreams, sharing that she applied the year before and was not chosen, but came back and tried again and was successful.

“I talked about how you might face challenges, you might not achieve your goals the first time, but it’s OK to try again,” she said. “I was super disappointed last year, and I’m sure they’ve had to work super hard for things and maybe didn’t get them the first time, either. You can’t be discouraged if you don’t get something the first time.”

She’s also been mentored by entrepreneur Sarah Fisher, a former race car driver and team owner, who introduced her to racing legend Mario Andretti at the Breakfast at the Brickyard.

During race weekend, she’s excited to stay at the Indiana State Fairgrounds with the other princesses, and to see the race from their seats near the start/finish line.

“I’m excited to bond with the other princesses and get to know them more,” she said, adding that she’s also looking forward to people watching at the race.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience to meet drivers, celebrities, and experience it up close,” she said. “I’ve only ever had seats in Turn 4, so this will be a little different.”

Education is KEY at Indiana University Kokomo.

Contact Info

Erin Witt, director of media and marketing
765-455-9468
witterin@iu.edu

Danielle Rush, communications specialist
765-432-9906
darush@iu.edu

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