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It’s been five weeks since Kára McCullough won the title of Miss USA 2017 in Las Vegas. But it wasn’t without controversy that the representative from Washington D.C. would walk away with the crown.

As previously reported, McCullough, a 25-year-old scientist working for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, ruffled a few feathers during the question and answer portion for the finalists when she called health care a “privilege” and not a “right.”

When asked whether she considered affordable health care for all United States citizens a right or a privilege, she replied, “I’m definitely going to say it’s a privilege … As a government employee, I am granted health care and I see first-hand that for one to have health care, you have to have job … So, therefore, we need to continue to cultivate this environment that we’re given the opportunity to have health care as well as jobs to all American citizens worldwide.”

Considering the Trump administration’s plan to replace the Affordable Health Care Act, her answer could not have come at a worse time. However, shortly after the backlash rolled in, the beauty queen appeared to redact her statement, telling “Good Morning America”. “I am privileged to have health care and I do believe that it should be a right. I hope and pray moving forward that health care is a right for all worldwide.”

“I still stand proud behind what I said. I had no idea that it was going to cause that much controversy. I do feel as I am privileged to have healthcare, I don’t take any of it for granted,” she explained. “There are so many people in this world that don’t have clean water to drink or to even bathe in. But do I believe that affordable healthcare should be a right? Of course! I believe that the vehicle for affordable healthcare are jobs and that’s what I want people to understand and see where I’m coming from.”

Now, stepping into her new role, McCullough hopes to move past the controversy (for good) by penning a letter to the women of America, by way of People.

“Dear Women of America, I wrote this letter because there are a lot of things going on in the world and I just wanted to share a few encouraging words with you all,” she begins.

“At times, especially right now, it may seem as if there are too many challenges for our world to overcome. And with what seems minimal solutions, on how to fix them, we often find ourselves discouraged,” she added. “More than ever, now is the time to be passionate and pursue the change you want to see in the world. Understand how you feel about the issues facing our country and globally — educate yourself. Use that education to find your voice and make sure to use it. It’s so important.”

In closing, she writes, “Consider working alongside meaningful groups that empower others to stand up for their beliefs. Don’t allow people to tell you that you can’t accomplish something or be a part of the change you want to see. And remember, in your daily lives, don’t be afraid to speak up in meetings and share your opinions, because the world needs them.”

R. Hawkins

Humble with a hint of Muhammad Ali...