LAS VEGAS (CBSDetroit/AP) – The new Miss USA is a scientist working for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Kara McCullough, representing the District of Columbia, was crowned Sunday in Las Vegas.

This was the second year in a row that the representative of the nation’s capital won the Miss USA title.

The 25-year-old McCullough was born in Italy and raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She bested 50 other contestants to earn the chance to represent the U.S. at the Miss Universe pageant.

“I love science,” McCullough said after the event. “I look at this as a great opportunity to — get to experience worldwide culture, as well as just having the opportunity to be impacted by so many children, hopefully in the math and sciences.”

McCullough says she is looking forward to experiencing “worldwide culture” and wants to inspire children to pursue careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The night wasn’t without controversy. McCullough raised some eyebrows when she called health care a “privilege” and not a “right” during the question and answer period, CBS2 in New York reported.

“As a government employee, I’m granted health care and I see firsthand that for one to have health care, you need to have jobs,” she said.

Miss Michigan USA Krista Ferguson, 24, did not place in the top 10 finalists.

Ferguson, in an interview with Glamour magazine, talked about her diagnosis with type 1 diabetes in 2015, and her decision to wear a monitoring patch during the contest.

“I thought, I don’t want to make anybody feel pity for me, but this is my platform. I have accepted it and learned that I can make a difference and have an impact on young women and men.” And that made the decision easy: “If I were to take it off it’s almost a little bit hypocritical. Why would I hide something like that? I’m keeping it on—with pride.”

The runner-up was Miss New Jersey Chhavi Verg. The second runner-up was Miss Minnesota Meridith Gould.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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