Kara McCullough, a chemist working for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, was crowned Miss USA Sunday during the event that took place at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on the Las Vegas Strip. She will go on to compete on the Miss Universe contest.
McCullough, representing the District of Columbia, was born in Naples, Italy, raised in Virginia Beach, Va., and went to college at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg.
Miss South Carolina, Megan Gordon, had a successful night. The North Augusta native was named among the final five contestants.
McCullough graduated with a degree in chemistry and concentration in radiochemistry. She was a member of S.C. State’s Honors College, the American Chemical Society, the Health Physics Society, the American Association of Blacks in Engineering and the American Nuclear Society.
She was recently inducted into the Alpha Nu Sigma Honor Society, the Golden Key International Honour Society and the National Society of Black Engineers, according to The Times & Democrat. The outlet reports that her philosophy in life is, “We all live and learn; therefore, nurture simplicity and humbleness.”
In 2012, McCullough was crowned the 75th Miss South Carolina State University at the school’s annual Coronation Ceremony.
According to Refinery29, McCullough funds a program called Science Exploration for Kids all by herself. She tells the outlet, “I go to the schools to do science projects, tutoring, and presentations … I hope and pray these moments fuel them for their entire lives.”
The runner-up was Miss New Jersey Chhavi Verg. The second runner-up was Miss Minnesota Meridith Gould. Fifty-one women representing each state and the nation’s capital participating in the decades-old competition.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.