Smart and Pretty: Federal Employee Crowned Miss USA

A federal employee scientist has been crowned as Miss USA. Her first lesson: dealing with the media.

For the second year in a row, the winner of the Miss USA pageant is from Washington, D.C.

Miss District of Columbia, Kara McCullough, was crowned as the new Miss USA last Sunday at the Las Vegas pageant.

McCullough is a 25-year-old scientist who works for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Rockville, Maryland.

She was born in Naples, Italy and raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She is the daughter of a now retired US Navy Chief Petty Officer. As a result, she has traveled and lived in numerous locations around the world including Sicily, Japan, South Korea and Hawaii.

Her salary at the agency is $77,490.00 according to data from

McCullough earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry with a concentration in Radiochemistry from South Carolina State University. Her major provided her the opportunity to intern at several universities. This paved the way to her current career at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The newly crowned Miss USA said she wants to inspire children to pursue careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Last year, District of Columbia resident Deshauna Barber became the first-ever military member to win Miss USA.

Perhaps one of the hardest parts of becoming a celebrity overnight is learning how to deal with the media. The new Miss USA quickly found herself embroiled in the health care controversy.

When asked during Sunday night’s pageant whether she thinks that affordable health care for all U.S. citizens is a right or a privilege, she said it is a privilege.

As a government employee, I’m granted health care and I see firsthand that for one to have health care, you need to have job.

That, predictably, was not what some people wanted to hear as they believe health care is a guaranteed right. Twitter, of course, lit up with various views reflecting some of the issues in political divide in America that now infects most of our lives. Here is a brief sample of the variety of comments.

Within a short time, she was “clarifying” her original comment.


About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47