Q & A with the (Derby Festival) Queen: Julia Springate ’14
Just in time for the 140th Run for the Roses, we sat down to talk with Centre College’s very own royalty, Julia Springate ’14, who was recently crowned the 2014 Kentucky Derby Festival Queen. Selected from over 160 applicants, Springate received the nod (and a $2,000 scholarship) in January as one of five princesses representing the Derby Festival’s Royal Court. In early April, she was crowned Queen during the annual Fillies Ball — one of many festival events on her royal roster leading up to the Kentucky Derby on May 3.
What inspired you to apply for the Ky. Derby Festival Royal Court?
As a Louisville native, I have always enjoyed the Kentucky Derby Festival (KDF) events, from Thunder Over Louisville to the Balloon Glow to the Derby itself. The KDF is the largest community festival in the country, and I love the way it brings the city together. It has been a dream come true to be an ambassador for this festival.
What goes into the selection process?
Actually, the Derby Festival Queen is chosen by the spin of a wheel at the annual Fillies Ball. Among the five princesses, the one who drew the number the wheel lands on becomes Queen. The process to become a princess, however, is much more involved — it includes an application, transcript, recommendations and two rounds of interviews. This year more than 160 young women applied, so I was extremely honored to be selected.
We’re certain the Derby Festival Queen leads a busy schedule — what royal duties come with your appointment as the festival’s official ambassador?
From the time we were chosen in January until Derby Day in May, we attend more than 50 Kentucky Derby Festival events. These range from volunteering, charity dinners, Fest-A-Ville, the steamboat race, Balloon Glow and race, the Pegasus Parade and more.
What has been the most exciting part of this experience so far?
I have absolutely loved being out in the community and interacting with everyone at the events. I always say that Derby is the best time of year to be a Louisvillian, because spirits are so high in the city. I love the energy and happiness it brings, and being part of it has been a privilege beyond what I could have imagined.
How do you feel your time at Centre has helped prepare you for this opportunity?
My experiences at Centre have taught me to step outside of my comfort zone and do things that may seem impossible. As a first-year student, I never could have imagined the personal growth I would experience over the course of my four years here. I am so proud to represent Centre, because it has given me so much. I truly enjoy meeting members of my community and telling them I attend Centre College.
Of course, being selected as Derby Festival Queen is a highlight of your college career. What other great experiences will you take from Centre?
It is difficult for me to choose one experience. I think that I am most grateful to Centre for the many doors it has opened for me. From an amazing internship, to studying abroad at the University of Glasgow, to preparing me for medical school and so much more — I could not have asked for a better college to attend.
Additional comments from the Queen?
I just want to take this opportunity to thank the professors, staff, friends and family members who have given me such a memorable college experience. Without their support, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Centre has given me the skills I need to be successful, and I hope to make Mother Centre proud!
Julia Springate, of Louisville, Ky., is a senior biology major at Centre College. She plans to attend medical school after graduation.
by Amy Clark Wise