It's not every day that you hear a pageant contestant launch into a minutes-long explanation of isotope reactors.
But listening to Kára McCullough excitedly describe the job-creating powers of new energy technology, it's clear that the new Miss USA is full of surprises. McCullough's backstory wowed viewers during the pageant Sunday night, as the 25-year-old Miss District of Columbia described her impressive day job as a scientist with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Another surprise came during the pageant's question portions, where she deviated from the other contestants' more predictable answers, telling the audience that she believes healthcare is a privilege, not a right, and sees herself more as an "equalist" than a feminist.
McCullough has spent much of her first week as Miss USA clarifying those comments, telling USA TODAY that she doesn't regret what she said onstage. "The beauty of America is that we all have an opinion, and we all have the right to say how we feel, and it's amazing so many people spoke out on the situation and contributed their two cents," she said. "I just hope and pray that people still have an open mindset, rather than staying so close-minded."
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McCullough shut down the idea that the politically diverse media tour she embarked on this week, speaking to outlets ranging from Cosmopolitan to conservative radio shows, was an attempt at political posturing.
"I believe it's coming from a place of authenticity," she said. "I'm not saying I'm out here trying to please everyone, because actually, that's something that can't be done. My whole purpose is so people can get clarification on what I said, and so people can understand that I do have a voice."
Before her opinions made national headlines, McCullough was familiar with how politics can shape Americans' lives America’s pro-science values are currently a hot-button topic, and when asked about whether current debates over the future of science have shaken her and her colleagues, McCullough stayed positive.
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