Kara McCullough, a 25-year-old chemist working for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, was crowned Sunday at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on the Las Vegas Strip. She will go on to compete on the Miss Universe contest.
McCullough is from the District of Columbia which has now won back-to-back Miss USA titles.
The runner-up was Miss New Jersey Chhavi Verg, a student at Rutgers University studying marketing and Spanish.
The second runner-up was Miss Minnesota Meridith Gould, who is studying apparel retail merchandising at the University of Minnesota.
Fifty-one women representing each state and the nation’s capital participated in the decades-old competition.
McCullough was born in Naples, Italy, and raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She said she wants to inspire children to pursue careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Last year, District of Columbia resident Deshauna Barber became the first-ever military member to win Miss USA.
The top five finalists where asked different questions that touched on the pros and cons of social media, women’s rights and issues affecting teenagers.
McCullough was asked whether she thinks that affordable healthcare for all U.S. citizens is a right or a privilege. McCullough said it is a privilege.
“As a government employee, I’m granted health care and I see first-hand that for one to have healthcare, you need to have jobs.”
Later in the competition, the McCullough, Verg and Gould were asked to explain what they consider feminism to be and whether they consider themselves feminists. Miss District of Columbia said she likes to “transpose” the word feminism to “equalism.”
The beauty pageant this year included five women who immigrated to the U.S. at a young age and now as citizens hoped to represent the nation on a global stage.
Read more: Fox News