LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Kentucky Derby Festival has announced five women who will serve as princesses for this year’s festival.
Hayley Benson, Lauren Carter, Mahshad Taheri, Mallory Hudson and Valerie Tran were selected Monday morning during an event at Dillard’s Mall St. Matthews location.
The women will act as ambassadors for the festival and community as well as attending more than 70 events during the spring.
Each of them will receive $2,000 scholarship – $1,000 from Fillies Inc. and $1,000 from the Kentucky Derby Festival Foundation.
Organizers also revealed that national tea company and presenting sponsor, Luzianne presented the princesses with an additional $1,000 scholarship.
“For the past six decades, seeing the Derby Festival Princesses out in the community has been one of the most visible and anticipated signs that the fun and excitement of the Derby Festival season is around the corner,” Matt Gibson, Kentucky Derby Festival President & CEO, said. “We’re honored to partner with Luzianne Tea, an iconic brand that shares our values of celebrating traditions that bring people and communities together.”
This year’s Royal Court was selected following final judging over the weekend.
The women have another chance to experience royalty as one of them could be selected as Derby Festival Queen by a spin of a wheel during the Fillies Ball on April 15.
Learn more about the members of the court:
Hayley Benson of Louisville, KY
Hayley, 21-years-old, is a junior at the University of Louisville majoring in Biology on the Pre-Medical track. She’s a Woodford R. Porter Scholar, Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Scholar, a recipient of the Humana Foundation Scholarship Program, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and works for UofL’s Resources for Academic Achievement as a General Chemistry I Structured Learning Assistant.
Lauren Carter of Lexington, KY
Lauren, 22-years-old, is a senior at the University of Kentucky Lewis Honors College double majoring in Management and Marketing on the Pre-Law track. She is a Merit Scholar, Vice President of the Order of Omega Leadership and Honors Fraternity, has received the Girl Scouts Bronze and Silver Awards, is involved in Best Buddies, and is the Founder of Stop Throwing Stones: A Kindness Movement.
Mallory Hudson of Bowling Green, KY
Mallory, 21-years-old, is a junior at the University of Kentucky majoring in Communications and minoring in Political Science. She has served as an ambassador for Jovani Fashions and is the reigning Miss Bowling Green, as well as the founder of Inclusive Stages, which provides theatrical experiences for individuals with special needs.
Mahshad Taheri of Louisville KY
Mahshad, 21-years-old, is a senior at the University of Louisville majoring in Finance. She is a Jones Scholar, a SHPEP Scholar, Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Scholar, founder of MENASA (Middle Eastern North African Student Organization), volunteer for Kentucky Refugee Ministries, a mentor for College Mentors for Kids, and works for the Admissions Office and Campus Housing Department at UofL.
Valerie Tran of Louisville, KY
Valerie, 22-years-old, is a senior at the University of Louisville majoring in Industrial Engineering. She is the Executive Director of raiseRED Dance Marathon, co-founder of the Homeland Project, a Vogt Scholar, member of Chi Omega Sorority, and has been named Volunteer of the Year (by UofL) and Young Philanthropist of the Year (by the Association of Fundraising Professionals).