Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Who is Grace Stanke, the Miss Wisconsin nuclear engineering student and Miss America 2023 winner?

Article originally published by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Written by author Christopher Kuhagen

The “nuclear nerd” is Miss America.

Miss Wisconsin Grace Stanke, who gives herself that title in her Instagram bio as a nod to her career aspirations, was given a new title Thursday night: Miss America 2023.

Here’s Stanke’s crowning moment Thursday night at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, as she was presented her new sash and crown while her fellow contestants celebrated her title behind her.

Who were the runner-ups at the 2023 Miss America competition?

Following Stanke were first runner-up Miss New York Taryn Delanie Smith, second runner-up Miss Texas Averie Bishop, third runner-up West Virginia Elizabeth Lynch and fourth runner-up Miss Georgia Kelsey Hollis.

Here’s more on what you should know about Stanke, the third woman to be crowned Miss America from Wisconsin in the organization’s 101-year history.

Who is Grace Stanke?

She is a 20-year-old from Wausau, Wisconsin, who grew up competing in scholarship-based pageants, is an advocate for clean energy sources, and on Thursday was the 95th winner of the Miss America competition. She won the $50,000 cash scholarship that went with the title.

Miss america grace stanke crowning moment

Who are Grace’s parents?

Stanke is the daughter of Darrin and Jenny Stanke.

Stanke is a nuclear engineering student

She is a senior at UW-Madison and is studying to become a nuclear engineer. After a year serving as Miss Wisconsin, she plans to finish her college degree.

Of course, her Badger family had lots of support for her after her win.

Where did Stanke go to high school?

Wausau West High School

Miss Wisconsin 2022 Grace Stanke, center right, celebrates her victory in the Miss America competition with Miss New York 2022 Taryn Delanie Smith, Thursday night at the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. Smith was the first runner-up at the competition.

Stanke has a long history in the Miss America competition

Her victory Thursday wasn’t the first time she has worn a crown.

As a 13-year-old she first competed in the Miss Wisconsin Outstanding Teen organization. Stanke won Miss Wausau’s Outstanding Teen in 2016 and then in 2017 captured the Miss Harbor Cities’ Outstanding Teen. She became Miss Wisconsin Outstanding Teen that year.

She continued her success a few years later becoming Miss Madison in 2020-21 (she was a semifinalist in the Miss Wisconsin competition last year). Stanke came back this year and won Miss Badgerland before taking the Miss Wisconsin 2022 title in June.


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A post shared by Grace Stanke (@grace.stanke)

Stanke’s platform is ‘Clean Energy, Cleaner Future’ as she promotes nuclear power

Her social impact initiative is “Clean Energy, Cleaner Future” as she champions for America to turn to zero-carbon energy sources as well as eliminating misconceptions around nuclear power.

She has said her father, a civil engineer, was influential in her to go into nuclear engineering. She previously told the Oshkosh Northwestern that nuclear science helped save her father’s life during treatments for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

When she gets into profession, Stanke wants to be an advocate for nuclear energy and influencing policies to better the environment. Through it all, her goal is to inspire young girls get into the STEM fields.

Miss Wisconsin Grace Stanke performs on her violin holiday music during the Manitowoc Lakeshore Holiday Parade on Nov. 23. She won the talent portion of the Miss America competition before going on to win the entire event on Thursday.

Stanke is a talented violinist

She picked up the instrument at 8 years old and it became one of her passions. She showed off this talent during the Miss America competitions as a teenager.

She then shined on the biggest stage.

Stanke won the Miss America Talent Scholarship, wowing the judges with her classical performance, while taking home $2,500 in scholarship money.

Miss Wisconsin Grace Stanke, left, acknowledges the audience moments after she was crowned as Miss America 2023 during the Miss America competition Thursday night.

What’s next for Stanke as Miss America?

She’ll be the face of the Miss America Organization over the next year, while promoting her social initiative. Stanke will be a full-time, paid contractual employee of the organization. She will travel the country and also visit other countries giving speeches and doing research on her platform.

Check out the online article on Yahoo! News, here.

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Who is Miss Wisconsin Grace Stanke, the 2023 Miss America winner?

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