It's not all about the crown and sash for 500 Festival princess Alyssa Halcomb

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To the kids she spends time with, Alyssa Halcomb is a real princess.

A good ruler acts in the best interest of her subjects. That's exactly what IUPUI's Alyssa Halcomb, and the 32 other 500 Festival princesses, plan to do during their reign.

Halcomb, a junior majoring in marketing and supply chain management at the Kelley School of Business, is one of six princesses from IUPUI. Including women from the Bloomington and Kokomo campuses, Indiana University is well-represented, with nearly half of the program's participants.

Other IUPUI students in the 2018 500 Festival Princess Program are:

  • Rachel Curry, junior, School of Medicine.
  • Stephanie Forsythe, junior, School of Physical Education and Tourism Management.
  • Ariel Gastelum, junior, Kelley School of Business, Honors College.
  • Laura Hauersperger, senior, School of Liberal Arts.
  • Sav Williamson, junior, School of Social Work.

IU Bloomington's seven princesses are:

  • Molly Connor, senior, School of Public and Environmental Affairs.
  • Alexis Doan, sophomore, Kelley School of Business.
  • Alyssa Fain, senior, Kelley School of Business.
  • Lauren Frank, senior, College of Arts and Sciences.
  • Eva Li, junior, School of Public Health.
  • Hannah Thomas, senior, The Media School.
  • Abby Zielinski, junior, College of Arts and Sciences.

Allison Ault, a junior, is in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at IU Kokomo.

Community service is a key component of the princess program. Princesses were selected from hundreds of applicants based on communication skills and academic performance -- the cumulative GPA of this year's court is 3.72 -- in addition to community involvement.

Each princess is required to organize at least four outreach events during her reign, and they are encouraged to attend others' events. This takes them across the state.

"It could be in the community where you're from, or in Indianapolis, where you go to school," said Halcomb, who is clearly energized by the abundant possibilities. "Anywhere in Indiana is fair game."

500 Festival princess perks

  • Participation in the 500 Festival Leadership Development Program.
  • Mentorship from a member of the 500 Festival board of directors.
  • $1,000 scholarship.
  • Participation in Indianapolis Motor Speedway functions, including pre-race ceremonies and the Victory Circle celebration.
  • Custom-made jewelry and complimentary clothing to wear at events.

Halcomb has already assisted with other projects, including Flashes of Hope, which gives pediatric cancer patients the chance to be a princess for a day.

"Little girls could come get their hair curled and their nails painted, and they could get a professional picture taken. We sit there and interact with them and color. They ask, 'Are you a real princess?' And you get to say, 'Yeah, I'm a real princess,'" Halcomb said.

"It's just really cool to be a role model for younger kids, for them to look up to you and for you to say, 'Hey, you can do this one day, too. If you work hard in school and put your mind to it, you can be where I am."

For her own projects, Halcomb's plans include working with the elementary school in her hometown of Versailles as well as with the Humane Society. She has read books with kids at the local Ronald McDonald House and hopes to continue making an impact on the homeless community in Indianapolis, something she has especially enjoyed since volunteering at Wheeler Mission earlier this spring.

Bringing people together for a good cause is not new to Halcomb, the parents chairman of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority. ZTA raised more than $41,000 for breast cancer education and awareness, its official philanthropic cause, during its Big Man on Campus event in April.

It was her involvement with ZTA that pushed Halcomb closer to becoming a 500 Festival princess in the first place.

"A lot of my sorority sisters were involved in the program. I absolutely fell in love with it -- the community service aspect of it, the leadership development aspect of it," Halcomb said. "You get a lot of experience in a lot of different ways.

"There's so much more that goes into it than just walking around with your crown and sash and waving to people and taking pictures. The main reason I wanted to do it was to give back to the Indianapolis community. It's given me so much."