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Miss America talks nuclear power at annual meeting for Dairyland in La Crosse



Grace Stanke, reigning Miss America, speaks about nuclear power at the Dairyland Power annual meeting in La Crosse on June 7, 2023 (PHOTO: Brad Williams)

Nuclear technology needs a more positive image, according to the reigning Miss America from Wisconsin.

Grace Stanke, from Wausau, Wis., has trained for a career in nuclear science, and her platform as Miss America is “clean energy.”

FILE – Miss Wisconsin Grace Stanke, center, is crowned as Miss America 2023 by Miss America 2022 Emma Broyles, behind center, at the conclusion of the Miss America competition at the Mohegan Sun casino, in Uncasville, Conn., Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Speaking at the Dairyland Power Cooperative annual meeting in La Crosse on Wednesday, Stanke said science fiction and comic books have helped portray nuclear energy and radioactivity as harmful.

She says that perception led to the rebranding of technology such as MRI scanners, which originally had the word “nuclear” in its name.

“People wouldn’t use it because of the word nuclear, so they just got rid of it, and now an MRI machine is a commonly used thing,” Stanke told an audience at the La Crosse Center.

Stanke also says the general public may not know that most nuclear waste can be reprocessed, with only about 5 percent dangerous enough to be stored in isolation.

Stanke has studied nuclear engineering at UW-Madison. She hopes to get other young people interested in joining nuclear-related fields.

“My biggest mission is to promote people finding their passions, and find them a role within the field then,” Stanke said, “because if they find their passion, if they love communicating…if they love engineering,” they could find a role in the nuclear industry or another field.

Stanke said Madison was low on the list of colleges she wanted to attend, but now thinks she might not have trained for nuclear engineering if she hadn’t studied there.

This was Stanke’s second featured visit to the La Crosse area since winning the Miss America title last December. In January, she served as a judge at the Onalaska Show Choir festival.

FILE – Miss America Grace Stanke, a UW-Madison student and Wausau native, poses for a photo with fans at Onalaska High School on Jan. 14, 2023.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Tom

    June 8, 2023 at 10:06 am

    How can we Americans not be confused by having a Brainiac for our Miss America?

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