Nuclear Scientist Wins Miss USA Title

The 25-year-old hopes to inspire women interested in technology, engineering, and mathematics.

May 15, 2017 9:09 am
Kara McCullough,Miss USA 2017.
Kara McCullough,Miss USA 2017. (Miss USA Official Twitter)

Sure, this beauty queen aced the swimsuit and evening gown categories, but it’s the questions part where she really turned heads.

Kara McCullough, who works as a scientist at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in D.C., took home the Miss USA crown Sunday night.

McCullough, 25, was born in Italy and raised in Virginia Beach, and studied nuclear chemistry at South Carolina State University. In addition to her day job, she also hosts a community outreach program that introduces and teaches children different concepts in science.

“If you would have been my science teacher, I would have paid more attention in class!” Terrence Jenkins, who co-hosted the pageant along with “Dancing With the Stars” judge Julianne Hough, said.

McCullough said that she hopes especially to inspire women who are interested in technology, engineering, and mathematics, but hesitated to call herself a feminist during the controversial Q&A portion of the pageant.

“So as a woman scientist in the government, I’d like to lately transpose the word feminism to equalism,” McCullough said. “I don’t really want to consider myself — try not to consider myself like this die-hard, you know, like, ‘Oh, I don’t really care about men.’ But one thing I’m gonna say, though, is women, we are just as equal as men when it comes to opportunity in the workplace.”

“And I say firsthand: I have witnessed the impact that women have in leadership in the medical sciences, as well as just in the office environment,” she added. “So as Miss USA, I would hope to promote that type of leadership responsibility globally to so many women worldwide.”

She also weighed in on the healthcare debate, sparking controversy online after suggesting it’s a privilege for those who have jobs.

It’s the second year in a row that Miss D.C. won the top prize. This year, McCullough beat out runner-up Chhavi Verg, who represented New Jersey.

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