Q & A with the Derby Festival Queen: Briana Lathon ’15

Posted by Centre News in News 29 Apr 2015

derbyqueenThe odds were in Centre College senior Briana Lathon’s favor on April 17, when the spin of a wheel during the 55th Fillies Derby Ball declared her the 2015 Kentucky Derby Festival Queen. As fate would have it, Lathon is the second Centre student in as many years to fill the royal appointment. She inherits the crown from alumna and 2014 festival queen Julie Springate ’14 (pictured below, left).

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 3.48.55 PMAs the 141st Run for the Roses approaches, we sat down to talk with Lathon about her crowning achievement. Selected from more than 100 applicants, the politics major and New Horizon Scholar who plans to pursue a law degree following graduation received the nod earlier this year as one of five princesses representing the Derby Festival’s Royal Court. Her crowning in mid-April during the coronation ball was the first appearance of many as the festival’s official ambassador leading up to the Kentucky Derby in Louisville on May 2.

What inspired you to apply for the Kentucky Derby Festival Royal Court?
When I was a little girl, I recall attending the Pegasus Parade and seeing the Fillie’s float carry the Derby Royal Court. I remember telling my mother that I wanted to be a princess like those girls someday. Once I got older, I learned more about the progam and decided that, during my senior year at Centre, I would apply. 

What goes into the selection process?
The process to becoming a princess involves two rounds of interviews (one conversational and one more intense), two letters of recommendations, an outstanding GPA and transcript, and headshot submissions.

What has been the most exciting part of this experience so far?
I’ve really enjoyed meeting all the people that help organize the festival as well as the children who attend the events. My favorite part has been wearing the gorgeous robe, the wings, the scepter and, of course, the crown—I feel magical when I put it on. The Pegasus Parade was also definitely a highlight.

How do you feel your time at Centre has helped prepare you for this opportunity?
My Centre experience has helped me hone my public speaking skills as well as my ability to efficiently and effectively respond to interview questions. Ultimately, I feel it has “groomed” me for this role as a public figure.

Of course, being selected as Derby Festival Queen is a highlight of your college career. What other great experiences will you take from Centre?
Definitely, my study abroad experiences. My time in France and Ghana was beyond transformative. I learned so much about myself and about the importance of being a true global citizen.

Additional comments from the Queen?
People always think that selection as a Derby Princess is a beauty contest, but it’s actually based on merit. I’m on the court with four brilliant young women who are as pretty on the inside as they are on the outside.

Read more about Briana Lathon’s yearlong appointment as the Kentucky Derby Festival Queen.

by Amy Clark Wise
April 28, 2015