We're celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month! As a community-focused organization, we're proud to celebrate the Hispanic and Latinx community - and the influence of its culture, traditions, and heritage - this month and every month. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we're highlighting a few 500 Festival Princesses who shared how they leveraged their experience with the Princess Program to amplify the significance of their heritage with communities and youth across the state.
"As a Hispanic woman, I loved and appreciated having other Princesses that were a part of the Hispanic community because it was encouraging to know that other princesses understood my upbringing and culture. I am grateful for the opportunity to represent the Hispanic community in such a diverse group of women that create a healthy and loving learning environment. What I felt was most impactful during my time as a 500 Festival Princess, was the opportunity to speak Spanish to families and children that either didn’t speak much English or preferred to communicate in Spanish. I could feel their gratitude and excitement in knowing that they would be able to participate in all of the events they wanted to without fear of not being able to communicate or being misunderstood. There is a freedom in having people speak the same language you do when you are accustomed to not being understood. Children observe and see so much more than adults realize, and I know that we are slowly making an impact as we continue to have princesses that can speak the same language as they do and that look like they do." - Jullianna Niebbia
"When I walked into an elementary school, I introduced myself as the 500 Festival Queen Scholar, and immediately, a child raised their hand and asked if I could speak Spanish. After saying yes, I was wholeheartedly touched by what happened next. The children gasped with excitement, then immediately got up to hug me and began telling me about their stories in Spanish. They talked to me about their families, their hometowns in their country, wanting to be first-generation college students and fun facts about their life. Through the 500 Festival Princess Program, presented by The National Bank of Indianapolis, I have the opportunity to continue to share my culture, traditions, and heritage with others, which has allowed me to have special moments like the above with the community!" -Melissa Aceves
“When people have asked me, why did I apply to become a 500 Festival Princess? I responded with, “I wanted to represent my Latina community in hopes that I would encourage more women to apply for the program in the future.” Representation is crucial, especially when the program focuses on developing leaders and challenging the status quo. My favorite memory is participating in the 500 Festival Parade on a float. However, the most heartwarming experience was waving to the crowd. I was reminded on why I wanted to be a part of the program when I would see the faces of young Brown girls light up when they saw me and my fellow Latinas. It was heartwarming to see that that moment could have been their inspiration to become a future 500 Festival Princess.” - Maria De Leon