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The brains behind the beauties at the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City

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Miss California, Crystal Lee, (at left) has degrees in biology and communications from Stanford and hopes to launch her own tech startup one day.
Miss California, Crystal Lee, (at left) has degrees in biology and communications from Stanford and hopes to launch her own tech startup one day. - (Facebook)

Right now in Atlantic City, there is an aspiring neurologist, a future public health commissioner, a wannabe tech entrepreneur and a college math professor hopeful parading around in bikinis and ball gowns. Turns out, about a third of the contestants in this year's Miss America pageant are heading for careers in the STEM (science, technology, math and engineering) fields.

Often maligned for its focus on the physical, the Miss America competition is spreading the word that its beauties have brains, too. In an article in the "Press of Atlantic City," Regina Hopper, a member of the Miss America board of directors, said the pageant is working to better promote the fact that its contestants are beautiful, poised AND intelligent.

Miss Wisconsin, Paula Mae Kuiper, wants to be a doctor. Miss Mississippi, Chelsea Rick, has her sights set on becoming a neurologist. Miss Rhode Island, Jessica Marfeo, is triple majoring in biology, elementary education and pre-med and is eyeing a career in public health. Miss Nevada, Diana Sweeney, wants to be a college math professor. And Miss California, Crystal Lee, wants to launch her own tech startup.

"Women aren't as well-represented in these (STEM) fields, which are so crucial to the future of America," Lee told the "Press." "I'd love to get a company to sponsor a Miss America speaking tour on STEM. It could really take Miss America to the next level."

Mary Johnson

Mary Johnson

Mary Johnson is a staff reporter covering midsized and growth companies, as well as women in business. Mary lived in Fla., Texas, Conn. and N.Y. before moving to N.J. with her husband and infant son. Email her at maryj@njbiz.com. She is @mjohns422 on Twitter. Read her blog, Breaking Glass.

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