SALT LAKE CITY — She may have been crowned Miss Utah earlier this year, but Kara Arnold is just as likely to be wearing her lab coat as her tiara, and you'll find her at high schools performing science experiments more often than on a stage.
That's because she takes science seriously. She's a recent biochemistry grad from the U., and has dedicated her time as Miss Utah to promoting a platform she calls "Step up with STEM." It stands for science, technology, engineering and math — subjects she considers central to education and the nation's future.
"I think it's a huge part of our economy today and where we're going," Arnold said.
She's concerned that many people, especially minorities and girls, aren't considering science-related educations and careers, or haven't been offered the opportunity. So she spends much of her time traveling around Utah, promoting STEM fields as Miss Utah, in conjuntion with the U. Chemistry department.
"Through being a chemistry major," she said, "I found that I was really passionate about science and promoting science and teaching science, and how cool it was to understand these things about the world."
She'll be focusing on those young students, especially girls, in 4th through 9th grade.
"I think that's the most import part is inspiring them and capturing them at a young age, because otherwise they are not going to be ready and prepared to pursue it in college," she said.
Arnold will be leaving for Las Vegas next week to compete in the national Miss America pageant, where she thinks she's got a good chance of winning the biggest title in pageantry. She'll be taking her education message with her, and continue promoting it if she wins.
"There has been a lack if interest in those types of fields that has been recognized on a national level," she said.
Arnold said she grew up in a home that stressed education and especially the sciences. Her mother, a 5th grade teacher, encouraged her to take the most advanced classes she could. That eventually led her to a degree in biochemistry, and soon enough, medicine. She has been accepted to the U.'s medical school and will start classes as when she's back from the competition, or done with her responsibilities as Miss America — whichever comes first.
Though chemistry has been her passion through college, pageantry has allowed her to pursue those goals. She's paid for her undergraduate education with her winnings and scholarships she's earned on the stage.
"It's a perfect relationship," she said.
The final day of the Miss America pageant will be aired live on Jan. 12. Those who would like to vote for Arnold in the people's choice award portion of the competition can click here