Two U of L students crowned Kentucky Derby Festival Princesses Saturday, Jan 18 2020 

By Matthew Keck —

Each year, five out of 100 girls are crowned Kentucky Derby Festival (KDF) Princesses, and this year two University of Louisville students were crowned. Junior Gia Combs and sophomore Leah Hazelwood were selected for the 2020 KDF Royal Court Jan. 4.

For Combs, this was a childhood dream come true. “I actually always wanted to be a princess since I was little,” she said.

As for Hazelwood, this was an opportunity to represent the state she calls home. “I’ve always been a person who is by Kentucky and for Kentucky,” said Hazelwood. “This Commonwealth has done so much for me.”

Both women are looking to give back and make a difference in their communities with this new title. Hazelwood is involved in the local organization She Became, which aims to educate third through fifth grade girls about potential careers and instill confidence in them as leaders.

“It’s amazing for the girls to see that princesses aren’t just pretty,” said Hazelwood. “And they’re also right here in your community, and they look like you and they act like you and they grew up from the same background as you. Not all princesses are Cinderellas.”

Combs started working with the Resilient Families Project (RFP) last semester and is looking to make an impression on the children there as well. “I think it would be really exciting to go and just be an inspiration to all the kids,” she said. She sees this as being a role model for the children in the RFP, and thinks it can show them they can do anything they set their minds too.

Something both of them are adjusting to is all the attention that comes with being a KDF Royal Court Princess. “[Having] strangers coming up to me and asking to take pictures and hug me,” said Hazelwood. “That’s not something I’ve experienced before.”

These women don’t only get crowned as princesses for the 2020 festival season either. They both will receive $2000 in scholarship money that is awarded by the Fillies and KDF Foundation. Much like other scholarships, they have to meet certain requirements including maintaining a 3.0 GPA.

On top of that, they have a busy schedule as princesses. During the festival season, Combs and Hazelwood will be attending nearly 70 events. One of those events is the Fillies Derby Ball, where either woman could be crowned Derby Festival Queen. They will also be at other KDF events such as Thunder Over Louisville and the KDF parade.

The KDF Royal Court Princesses have been around since 1957, which was the second year of the festival. Previous and notable princesses include former Kentucky Gov. Martha Layne Collins and the late Gail Gorski, the first female pilot hired by United Airlines.

The two newly crowned princesses said they hope to see fellow students at one of the 70 events they will be attending.

Photo Courtesy of Official KDF Photographer Marvin Young 

The post Two U of L students crowned Kentucky Derby Festival Princesses appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

Local sorority chapter gives women an opportunity to learn about political involvement Saturday, Jan 18 2020 

The event is aimed at helping women learn more about how to get politically involved in the community.

Kentucky battles Arkansas in SEC matchup at Bud Walton Arena Saturday, Jan 18 2020 

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Bullitt County Sheriff’s Office announces death of longtime lieutenant Saturday, Jan 18 2020 

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Indiana moped driver arrested for DUI, striking female firefighter Saturday, Jan 18 2020 

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Supporters of women’s rights gather in downtown Louisville as part of nationwide movement Saturday, Jan 18 2020 

The march, one of many held across the country Saturday, addressed a variety of issues, including what participants feel is a need for more women in office – especially in the nation's capitol.

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Louisville Women’s March Encourages Unity, Support For Women’s Rights Saturday, Jan 18 2020 

Sign reads, "Ditch Mitch Dump Trump" at Women's March rallyDespite wind, rain and cold, more than a hundred people huddled outside Metro Hall Saturday to advocate for minority representation and women’s rights as part of the Louisville Women’s March.

The rally was one of more than a hundred marches expected to take place across the nation Saturday. Louisville speakers included State Representative Charles Booker, U.S. Congressman John Yarmuth and State Representative Attica Scott — who said the march represents multiple groups of women.

“We march today for our sisters who are struggling with addiction. We march today for our sisters with disabilities. We march today for ourselves,” Scott said. “I believe that we all need each other. And whether or not you believe you need me, I need you.”

Democratic State Representative Attica Scott speaking at the Louisville Women's MarchKyeland Jackson |

Democratic State Representative Attica Scott speaking at the Louisville Women’s March

Democratic State Representative Charles Booker speaking at the Louisville Women's MarchKyeland Jackson |

Democratic State Representative Charles Booker speaking at the Louisville Women’s March

Supporters who gathered outside Metro Hall waved signs in support, reading “Equality and Opportunity for All” and “Ditch Mitch Dump Trump.” Some chanted “Show Me What Democracy Looks Like,” and yelled to support the event’s speakers.

More than a hundred people gathered outside Metro Hall for the Louisville Women's MarchKyeland Jackson |

More than a hundred people gathered outside Metro Hall for the Louisville Women’s March

Juli Gomez, 17, said she attended the event because society has not made enough progress to promote equality in misrepresented communities.

“There’s a lot of work left to be done, but I’m super optimistic because I really think people of my generation are much more prepared and equipped to take on those challenges than the ones before us,” Gomez said.

Her father, Alex Gomez, said he attended Saturday’s march because he sees challenges that women in his family endure and he wanted to advocate for their rights.

“It’s about time that we realize that they are probably better than we are at leading, and we need to give them a chance,” Gomez said. “Corporate America has realized the great leadership that they can find in women, and I think it’s just a matter of time.”

Sydney Crush (left), Alex Gomez (center) and Juli Gomez (right) outside the Louisville Women's MarchKyeland Jackson |

Sydney Crush (left), Alex Gomez (center) and Juli Gomez (right) outside the Louisville Women’s March

The Women’s March was first organized after the inauguration of President Donald Trump in 2017, mobilizing hundreds of thousands of protestors in Washington D.C. to march in support of women’s rights. Another march in D.C. today drew thousands of protestors


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