Gianna Combs and Leah Hazelwood
Giavanna Combs and Leah Hazelwood.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kentucky Derby Festival Royal Court is the same for 2021 as it was in 2020, meaning UofL students Giavanna Combs and Leah Hazelwood will once again represent the city of Louisville as official ambassadors for the festival.

Combs, a senior majoring in psychology with a minor in Pan-African Studies, is a Porter Scholar and a Denny Crum Scholar who is also active in several campus and community organizations. She is the vice president of the Caring Of New students Experiencing College Transition (Conect) Peer Mentoring Program, participated in the medical companion program with the Louisville VA Medical Center and worked with the Global Game Changers Student Empowerment Program.

Combs, who has maintained a 4.0 GPA, is a member and secretary of the Beta Epsilon Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.

Hazelwood is a junior dual majoring in political science and liberal studies with concentrations in race and gender studies, global public health and economics. She is a McConnell Scholar, a Harvard Kennedy Public Policy Leadership Scholar, the College of Arts & Sciences vice president and a member of Chi Omega sorority. Hazelwood, who was featured on the July 2020 cover of Today’s Women, is also a children’s advocate for the Center for Women and Families.

The Derby Festival Royal Court is chosen from over 100 applicants. Though most events will be different this year to  maintain COVID-19 safety protocols, a full schedule is available.

Alicia Kelso
Alicia Kelso is the director of social media and digital content. She joined UofL in 2015 as director of communications at the Brandeis School of Law. She also serves as a senior contributor at, writing about the restaurant industry, which she has covered since 2010. Her work has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Bloomberg, The Seattle Times, Good Morning America and Franchise Asia Magazine.