Meet The Newly-Crowned Miss USA: Natural-Hair Wearing Scientist And Miss D.C., Kára McCullough

This past weekend, the Miss USA 2017 pageant took place and a new queen of pageantry was crowned. Chocolate City took home the top prize yet again with 25-year-old Miss D.C. Kára McCullough winning the competition on Sunday night. She beat out first and second runner-up Chhavi Verg of New Jersey and Meridith Gould of Minnesota. So what’s her story?

Miss USA Kara McCullough

McCullough is a nuclear scientist at the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and before being given that opportunity, she graduated from South Carolina State University with a degree in chemistry (with a concentration on radiochemistry). The beauty wore her natural curls during the competition, which she was initially nervous about.

“When I choose to wear my hair curly, I was afraid,” McCullough told Refinery29. “I didn’t know if people were going to accept it.”

She continued, “I decided to embrace what makes me feel comfortable and what makes me feel the best and brightest on stage, but also embrace what other people can relate to. That typical, traditional sleek hair with a big tease, not to say it’s gone out the window, but it’s transitioning a lot.”

Of course, her choice to forgo the usual long hair or big bouffants for natural hair was received warmly. However, as last night’s show went on, that ended up being one of the few things received warmly by those who were watching the competition at home yesterday. Despite her being a great role model in terms of embracing her hair, being a successful Black woman in the STEM field, and starting an outreach program called Science Exploration for Kids to help students from grades six to 11, her stance on healthcare and feminism weren’t a hit with viewers.

 Kara McCullough Miss USA

When asked during the competition if she felt that affordable healthcare is a privilege or a right to everyone, she responded with this:

“I’m definitely going to say it’s a privilege. As a government employee, I am granted health care. And I see firsthand that for one to have health care, you need to have jobs. So therefore, we need to continue to cultivate this environment that we’re given the opportunities to have health care as well as jobs to all the American citizens worldwide.”

As for feminism, according to PEOPLE, McCullough said this when asked what she considered feminism and if she identifies as a feminist:

“So as a woman scientist in the government, I’d like to lately transpose the word ‘feminism’ to ‘equalism.’ I don’t really want to consider myself — try not to consider myself like this die-hard, you know, like, ‘Oh, I don’t really care about men.’ But one thing I’m going to say, though, is women, we are just as equal as men when it comes to opportunity in the workplace.”

Yeeeeeeah, that didn’t go over so well.

McCullough will have until next year to figure out whether or not those are the stances she wants to keep on such issues, because that’s when she will represent the USA on an even bigger stage — at the Miss Universe pageant.


Images via WENN