- Grace is a skilled violinist.
- She’s an environmental activist.
- The Miss Wisconsin winner has won victories in multiple pageants.
- She was crowned Miss America 2023 on December 15.
Grace Stanke is the new Miss America! After a high profile career in pageants, the gorgeous classical violinist from Wisconsin took home the crown at the annual pageant on Thursday, December 15, 2022. She emerged victorious from among top five finalists Miss Georgia Kelsey Hollis, Miss West Virginia Elizabeth Lynch, Miss Texas Averie Bishop, and Miss New York Taryn Delanie Smith at the 95th installment of the pageant, held in Connecticut. Grace played a jaw dropping violin solo and stunned during the red-carpet portion. Ultimately, she took the glittering crown and requisite red roses wearing a stunning white gown, and of course, smiling through all the emotion.
Now, as Grace faces the world as the newest winner of America’s most beloved and well-known scholarship pageant, many are curious about who she is. Here’s what to know about the newly crowned Miss America 2023.
She’s studying nuclear energy.
You read that right. The Wasau, Wisconsin native is currently studying for an undergraduate degree in nuclear engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. According to her bio on the official Miss Wisconsin page, the brainy beauty has already worked at a couple of “world class research labs” and as a co-op in nuclear fuels. “Her work and education helped her to realize the energy crisis happening on a global scale;” the bio reads. “Fossil fuels are running short on supply, causing prices to go up.”
Grace then realized that renewable energy and zero-carbon sources are the future, and she began her very own social impact initiative called “Clean Energy, Cleaner Future.” She hopes to lead the way in helping the country convert to zero-carbon energy — of course, with an emphasis on nuclear power. At the heart of her cause is averting the climate crisis. With a heavy agenda like that, how could judges not just hand her the crown?!
Grace is a classical violinist.
According to The Northwestern, she “built confidence” through learning violin performance. She began playing when she was all of eight years old, bolstering her love of music through private lessons — though she has admitted to shaking through performances.
As she grew, she knew the only way to master the anxiety was through more opportunities onstage — enter the Miss Wisconsin’s Outstanding Teen competitions. She went on to win Miss Wausau’s Outstanding Teen in 2016, Miss Harbor Cities’ Outstanding Teen in 2017, and finally becoming Miss Wisconsin’s Outstanding Teen 2017.
Next was Miss Madison (2020/2021,) Miss Badgerland (2022), and of course, Miss Wisconsin 2022. Before capturing the ultimate crown, she was awarded the Miss America Talent Scholarship for her classical violin performance — a $2,500 scholarship prize.
Even on a stage full of statuesque beauties, Grace stands out. The stunning blonde beauty stands at 5 foot 11! Being that tall isn’t always easy — Grace indicated that competing helped her to learn confidence and posture. “(Competing) helped me be comfortable in my own skin,” she said, per The Northwestern.
Grace aims to be a champion for women in STEM.
According to The Northwestern, our new Miss America noticed a dearth of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers as she began working in nuclear engineering. “I hope I can continue to pave the way for women in the future and help make it an equal percentage of women and men in the field,” she said, per the outlet.
She also feels that her involvement with the Miss America organization will help her be a “representative” for her causes. “If I hadn’t gotten involved [with Miss America], I probably would have been another engineer that just talks to other engineers,” she told the outlet. “I’ve gotten so excited to spread the word and be a representative between the nuclear industry and the general public.”
In the final round of the competition, the finalists were asked about their causes. Grace was careful to point out that she has her own opinions, but she’s aware of how to present them in the event of winning the crown. “As Miss America, I am representing this organization,” she said, just ahead of her victory. “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.”