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. 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.