Grace Stanke, a nuclear engineering student at the University of Wisconsin–Madison who has partnered with ANS to promote nuclear energy, has been crowned as Miss America 2023. After competing in the three-night competition at the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Conn., as the reigning Miss Wisconsin, Stanke was honored with the iconic crystal crown and a $50,000 scholarship on December 15. During her year-long reign as Miss America, she will also receive a six-figure salary and other benefits as she travels thousands of miles a month to represent the Miss America Organization and to continue advocating for nuclear energy.
During the past year, Stanke’s work with ANS has included writing articles for Nuclear Newswire about her visits to nuclear facilities in Wisconsin and about misconceptions regarding nuclear energy. She also posted a two-part video about nuclear fusion on the ANS Instagram page.
Clean Energy, Cleaner Future: Following her win in the Miss America competition, Stanke, who is a native of Wausau, Wis., said, “It’s been an honor to represent the great state of Wisconsin and I look forward to the opportunity to change the world through my social impact initiative ‘Clean Energy, Cleaner Future’ on the national stage.” During the pageant, she expressed her views about using nuclear power to reach zero-carbon energy goals, impressing the judges with her passion and intelligence. Shantel Krebs, the chair of the Miss America Organization Board of Directors, said, “The role of Miss America is not of vanity, but rather community impact and contribution to the crown. Grace has strongly demonstrated her abilities, and there is no doubt in our mind she—and all of this year’s class of candidates—are destined for greatness.”
Nuclear passion: Stanke’s passion for nuclear power was clearly stated in the article she wrote for Nuclear Newswire in November. She wrote, “Through my partnership with the American Nuclear Society, I have had the opportunity to see some incredible facilities in Wisconsin. . . . It has sparked several conversations at my various appearances—including at those small towns. Hearing people talk about nuclear science and the potential it holds truly fills my soul.”
She recalled a visit that she and her father, a retired civil engineer, had made to the Point Beach nuclear plant in Two Rivers, Wis. She wrote that her father “was asking about what type of concrete surrounded the spent fuel pool to hold up so well over such a long time. This proves one of the statements I like to make about nuclear engineering and nuclear power: Nuclear engineering is the melting pot of all engineering. We need chemical knowledge, mechanical knowledge, nuclear knowledge, and concrete (civil) knowledge, along with so much more. These power plants aren’t the work of one person, but the work of many brilliant minds put together. That’s the thrill of nuclear power to me.”
Stanke will now have to opportunity to spread her excitement and knowledge about nuclear power across the whole country throughout the next year.