A nuclear engineering student from the University of Wisconsin, Grace Stanke played the violin and impressed the panel of judges with comments about nuclear energy to earn the crown.
A new Miss America has been crowned!
Miss Wisconsin Grace Stanke, a nuclear engineering student from the University of Wisconsin, was crowned Miss America 2023 on Thursday at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
Stanke impressed the panel of judges with her answers during the Red Carpet portion and final round of the competition, and delivered a spectacular performance on the violin during the talent portion of the competition.
Miss New York Taryn Delanie Smith was crowned first runner-up, while Miss Texas Averie Bishop was named second runner-up.
The Top 11 finalists — 10 women selected by the judges and one selected by America’s vote — featured Miss Nevada Heather Renner, Miss Hawaii Lauren Teruya, Miss Oregon Sophia Takla, Miss Ohio Elizabette Nies, Miss Indiana Elizabeth Hallal and Miss Illinois Monica Mia Jones, who was selected by voters in America as the 11th contestant to make the cut.
Five women — including Miss West Virginia Elizabeth Wench and Miss Georgia Kelsey Hollis —advanced to the final round, where they were asked questions about causes that they are passionate about.
During the segment, Stanke said she is “excited” to have opportunities to discuss meaningful issues as Miss America and represent “the women who can.”
“As Miss America, I am representing this organization. If they ask further questions, I am able to preface saying, ‘This isn’t the organization’s point of view, this is my personal point of view as Grace Stanke’ and I can go on to state it — especially when it comes to things like nuclear energy and so many other hot political topics,” she explained.
Stanke now succeeds Emma Broyles, who is Korean American and became the first Miss Alaska contestant to win the Miss America title in the competition’s 100-year history.
“Being the first Korean Miss America, that we know of, is really cool because I think about when I was younger and I was growing up and not really seeing Korean women who looked like me in popular media,” Broyles, who was 20 at the time, told PEOPLE. “I remember I was ashamed of my heritage and I was avoiding embracing it at all costs.”
“Now that I’m older,” she added, “I’ve really been able to embrace my ethnicity and embrace my background, embrace the journey that my grandparents made 50 or so years ago.”