Amanda Fulcher was so floored with nervousness when she received what could be the final email from the 500 Festival Princess Program that she had to literally sit on the floor. 

When Fulcher opened the email and read that she was chosen to be one of the 33 2024 500 Festival Princesses, all she could do was silently smile. 

“I don't think I stopped smiling the rest of the day,” Fulcher said. 

Being a 500 Festival Princess is a dream come true for the Clayton native who has been attending and watching the Month of May events surrounding the Indianapolis 500 since she was a little girl. 

“I've grown up in an Indy 500-loving family. My parents and grandparents always went to the 500, and I have a lot of memories that revolve around the 500,” Fulcher said. 

Come to find out, her family’s roots in the Indy 500 go way back – actually, all the way back to the very first Indy 500 in 1911.

“When I was doing research while applying to be a princess, I found out that my great-great-grandfather was a riding mechanic in the inaugural Indy 500!” Fulcher said. “I was super excited to find out so much about my family history through this process.”

Although Fulcher has family ties to the Indy 500, she was weary of whether she would be chosen as a princess this year. Out of hundreds of applicants, the 500 Festival only invited about 240 college-aged women for the first-round interviews. From there, it was narrowed down to 66 young women welcomed back for a second and final interview. 

According to the 500 Festival, the women selected best embodied the Hoosier spirit and exhibited outstanding leadership, academic stewardship, and community involvement. 

“This is an extremely competitive program,” Fulcher started. “There were a lot of really talented girls there from the beginning. These girls are the best of the best. I met a lot of the girls when I went in for my first interview, and I was just wowed by them. By the plans they had, their majors, how active they were in their communities and on campus, and a wide variety of things,” Fulcher continued. “I felt all the girls going into the interview deserved to be a 500 Festival Princess. I just kept telling myself that if I didn’t make it, it’d be OK; I would try again. It’s not necessarily me. I just wasn’t what they were looking for at that current time.”

That exact positive and can-do attitude makes Fulcher the perfect 500 Festival Princess to represent Ivy Tech Community College and the Indianapolis campus

Fulcher enrolled at Ivy Tech in the medical assisting program this past fall. She has always wanted to be in the health industry, but she wasn’t exactly sure in what area. When she saw a shortage of healthcare workers, she felt called to the many wonderful opportunities at Ivy Tech Indianapolis, which has a learning site in Plainfield called MADE@Plainfield, just a town over from Clayton. 

“I knew I wanted to do something more hands-on that was a great starting point for anything I decide to do in the future, and medical assisting was the best fit,” Fulcher explained. “I felt it gave me an excellent base to expand. I can take my degree in several different ways. If I want to do more medical administration, I can do that with this degree. If I want to do more clinical and hands-on, I can do that. If I want to do more work in the laboratory, I can do that with this degree.” 

With a medical assisting degree, Fulcher aims to do something she is passionate about, which is being a patient navigator. As someone with Crohn's disease and interstitial cystitis, she knows what it's like to live with a chronic illness and how important and necessary it is to have someone who understands what you’re going through to advocate for you. 

“I want to advocate for people living with chronic conditions like me and empower them to believe that even though you have a chronic condition, don't let that hold you back. You can still be successful. Like being a 500 Festival Princess or being successful in the workforce,” Fulcher said.

Fulcher’s advocacy won’t stop there. As a 500 Princess, she will be heavily involved in community engagement activities and outreach programs throughout Indiana and her local community. Programming for all 33 500 Festival Princesses will include all of the Indy 500 festivities, plus initiatives of their own and their schools. 

An initiative of particular interest to Fulcher is advocating for community colleges to challenge the stigma often associated with two-year schools.  

“I'm super excited I get to represent Ivy Tech,” Fulcher said. “I think many people think that community college isn't as valuable of an education as a four-year university, and I would definitely argue against that. Ivy Tech prepares you more for the real world and getting ready for the workplace,” Fulcher continued. “I'm also super excited to represent Ivy Tech because I don't think a lot of girls know that as long as you're a full-time college student, you can apply to the 500 Festival Princess program. It doesn't matter if you're enrolled in a two-year or four-year school; you can be a 500 Festival Princess. I hope to see more princesses who are Ivy Tech students in the future.”

One of Fulcher’s favorite aspects of Ivy Tech is the support of her professors and getting to know her classmates. 

“I've gotten to know my classmates really well, and it's nice to know I'll be moving through this program with them,” Fulcher said. “Plus, with smaller class sizes, you get more one-on-one attention with the professors. It’s nice to know they actually know your name.”

Each 500 Festival Princess will receive a $1,000 scholarship and a custom pendant. The pendant includes a heart, which symbolizes the heart of a princess, an emerald that represents May’s birthstone, and the iconic Yard of Bricks to represent Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500. 

The Princesses will serve over 1,500 hours of community outreach, impacting over 50,000 people as they aim to spark the excitement of the Indianapolis 500. 

The 2024 500 Festival Queen Scholar will be announced on Saturday, May 18, during the 500 Festival Breakfast at the Brickyard. The 500 Festival Queen Scholar will be gifted an additional $1,500 scholarship.

Learn more about Ivy Tech’s medical assisting program and the School of Health Sciences

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.