McConnell Scholar named Derby Festival princess

By Mary Catherine Medley and Madelin Shelton
McConnell Scholar named Derby Festival princess

McConnell Scholar Paighton Brooks ('24)

Louisville, Ky. (January 18, 2024) – McConnell Scholar Paighton Brooks (’24) was recently crowned a 2024 Kentucky Derby Festival princess.

For nearly 70 years, the Kentucky Derby Festival Royal Court program has selected five princesses to represent the city of Louisville and the Commonwealth of Kentucky in anticipation of the annual Kentucky Derby.

As a princess, Brooks will attend more than 70 official events and have the chance to be crowned the 2024 Kentucky Derby Festival Queen. She will also receive $2,000 in scholarships, a complimentary wardrobe, and personal and professional development opportunities.

"Being named a Kentucky Derby Festival Princess has been a dream of mine since I became a student at UofL and I am ecstatic for the opportunity to be an ambassador for the KY Derby, to meet and interface with various community leaders, and create lifelong connections," said Brooks.

Chosen from nearly 100 applicants after preliminary judging and a final interview process, the five princesses were selected for their civic engagement and academic achievements.

"The Derby Princess program has a long and illustrious history in Louisville," said McConnell Center Director Dr. Gary Gregg. "We are proud to again have a representative of the McConnell Center on the Court and know Paighton will distinguish herself as the outstanding leader and servant that she always is."

From Alexandria, Ky., Brooks is a senior McConnell Scholar studying political science and criminal justice at UofL. She serves as president of the Society of Porter Scholars, chief of external affairs for the Student Government Association, and the diversity, equity, and inclusion chair on the McConnell Scholars Council.

Brooks is both a Dean’s Scholar and Woodford R. Porter Scholar and was selected as a 2023 participant for the prestigious Training and Recruitment Initiative for Admission to Leading Law Schools (TRIALS) at the New York University School of Law.