Black Girl Magic: Kára McCullough is Crowned Miss USA 2017!

Kára McCullough was crowned the 66th Miss USA during Sunday’s pageant. Beating out 50 other contestants, McCullough is giving us serious #BlackGirlMagic because she did it with her natural hair giving us curls for days as she took the top beauty honor!

The 25-year-old chemist, who works for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, gave D.C. its second win at the competition that took place on the Las Vegas Strip. McCullough was crowned by last year’s Miss District of Colombia and Miss USA 2016 winner Deshauna Barber. According to USA Today, Barber revealed that her mother, Cordelia Barber, died of lung cancer shortly after she won Miss USA 2016. To honor her late mother, Barber decided to wear her hair naturally on stage during her final walk.

Back to back, queen to queen. DC is your #MissUSA 2017.

A post shared by Kára McCullough (@missusa) on

Born in Naples, Italy and raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia, McCullough decided to rock her curls during the pageant, which stood out since she was surrounded by women who wore sleek, straight hair. As reported by Refinery 29, it wasn’t easy for the newly crowned Miss USA to wear her hair naturally. Although the reaction was better than she has ever expected, McCullough admits that she was hesitant about her hair.

“When I choose to wear my hair curly, I was afraid,” she shared with Refinery 29. “I didn’t know if people were going to accept it…if anyone was going to be receptive to it at all.”

“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,” McCullough continued. “That typical, traditional sleek hair with a big tease, not to say it’s gone out the window, but it’s transitioning a lot.”

McCullough says she hopes to be a role model for anyone with curls, “When I didn’t see anyone in competitions with my hairstyle,” she told Refinery 29. “ I decided I wanted to be the mold.”

However, breaking the “pageant girl” mold isn’t the only thing the newly crowned Miss USA wants to accomplish. As a scientist, McCullough also wants to teach children about the wonders of science and math. As reported, the newly crowned Miss USA has an outreach program, which she funds herself, called Science Exploration for Kids. McCullough says she visits schools to do “science projects, tutoring and presentations,” with children from grades 6 to 11.

“I hope and pray these moments fuel them for their entire lives,” she says.

Photo Credit: Instagram/Miss USA