Best known as the 2012 winner of the Miss America beauty pageant, this Midwesterner had previously been crowned Miss Wisconsin 2011.
In 2010, she earned a degree in music from Carthage College in Wisconsin.
During her time as Miss America, she attended a Children's Miracle Network Hospital event at the White House and made the acquaintance of President
She was born and raised in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Because her own father had served an eighteen-month prison sentence, she chose to highlight, as her pageant platform, the struggles of children whose parents were incarcerated.
She succeeded Teresa Scanlan as Miss America; Scanlan, who won the national beauty pageant in 2011, had previously served as Miss Nebraska.