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Wausau native Grace Stanke named Miss America 2023

UW student trades nuclear engineering classes for crown
UW student trades nuclear engineering classes for crown 00:26

MINNEAPOLIS -- A Wisconsin woman is the next Miss America.

Grace Stanke, a native of Wausau, was crowned Miss America during a ceremony in Connecticut on Thursday. The 20-year-old is a senior at University of Wisconsin-Madison studying nuclear engineering.

"Being crowned Miss America 2023 is impossible to put into words – it is a dream come true and has literally changed my life in an instant," Stanke said.  "I hope to live up to the impeccable legacy of Miss America, serving as a positive role model for women of all ages and my community."

Stanke was awarded a $50,000 cash scholarship and will earn a six-figure salary, benefits, and will travel roughly 20,000 a month during her reign as a representative of the Miss America Organization.

She said she will use her national platform to advocate for clean energy. She won the talent portion of the competition for her classical violin performance.

Miss America

Stanke's achievement also marked 50 years since the first Miss Wisconsin, Terry Meeuwsen, won Miss America.

Rachel Lane Evangelisto competed for Minnesota, as the first Indigenous woman to represent the state. She told WCCO's Marielle Mohs in June that pursuing the title was all about representation.

"I'm going to come right through and break all those barriers and say that I need to be authentic, I need to be truthful and just share my experiences," Evangelisto said.

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