Brains over beauty: This Miss America says being smart is cool [video]

Meet Nina Davuluri, the first Miss America of Indian descent.  She was also the first Miss America to have earned a science degree.

After winning the Miss America crown in 2013, Davuluri used the position to promote education in the “STEM” subjects (science, technology, engineering and math), especially among young girls. She stressed how a STEM education opens doors to a broad range of career opportunities. “I think a lot of times, we are in those confines of engineer, computer programmer,” she told U.S. News. “Oftentimes young girls can’t think outside the box of what STEM is.”

Miss America 2013, Nina Davuluri (Courtesy photo)

Davuluri first became involved in beauty pageants as a way to help pay for college. She excelled at both, winning a number of pageants and earning a degree in brain behavior and cognitive science from the University of Michigan. Since passing her crown to a new Miss America, Davuluri has continued to make appearances promoting STEM education, gender equality and diversity.

Programs such as TechGirls illustrate the potential of STEM learning for girls worldwide. GIST (Global Innovation through Science and Technology) boosts emerging economies by identifying and supporting their brightest technology entrepreneurs.

The Miss America pageant has been held annually in Atlantic City, New Jersey, since 1921. Each year an American woman between the ages of 17 and 24 is selected based on speaking ability, talent, modeling, and poise. The winner receives a substantial scholarship and embarks on a year-long speaking tour to promote a cause.