In an exclusive interview with POWER, Grace Stanke, the reigning Miss America 2023 and a nuclear engineering student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, highlights her mission to promote the critical role of nuclear power in the United States’ energy landscape.
Stanke, a passionate advocate for nuclear technology, is scheduled to address the American Nuclear Society’s conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, on June 12. Her message to the conference attendees focuses on equipping them with the skills to effectively communicate the myriad benefits of nuclear power. She asserts, “I will talk about how to be an advocate, how to communicate the importance of nuclear power effectively.
As an influential figure, Stanke is leveraging her platform to raise awareness about nuclear power and its place within a zero-carbon energy future. She emphasizes that nuclear power faces substantial barriers, primarily a lack of public and political support. Stanke believes that while clean energy options like solar and wind power have gained traction, nuclear power still suffers from lingering misconceptions.
Under the banner of “Clean energy, cleaner future,” Stanke seeks to shift public perception of nuclear power and bolster awareness of its multifaceted benefits. She acknowledges that nuclear science professionals are humans too, and her goal is to bridge the gap between two seemingly disparate worlds.
Stanke’s impressive résumé includes practical experience in nuclear power, particularly her contributions to nuclear fusion research at the HSX stellarator facility at UW-Madison, a renowned institution for plasma and fusion research. She has also served as the president of the university’s American Nuclear Society chapter. Furthermore, she gained valuable insights during her three-semester co-op with Constellation, an electric and natural gas utility operating numerous nuclear power plants across 16 states and the District of Columbia.
In addition to her academic and professional achievements, Stanke is an accomplished violinist who earned the title of Miss Wisconsin in June 2022, propelling her to the Miss America pageant. She actively engages with students on the subject of nuclear energy and delivers keynote addresses at nuclear power conferences.
Stanke’s commitment extends to on-site visits to prominent nuclear facilities, such as the Palo Verde Generating Station in Arizona, the largest nuclear power plant and power generation facility in the nation. Her recent trip to Plant Vogtle in Georgia provided her with firsthand insights into the ongoing construction of two new AP1000 reactors, supplementing the existing units.
Speaking about her experiences, Stanke expresses her enthusiasm for the field, particularly her time in the control room at Plant Vogtle, where she witnessed significant milestones in power output. She emphasizes the importance of collaborative efforts and encourages companies to incorporate nuclear power into their energy portfolios.
In closing, Stanke reinforces the significance of nuclear power in the evolving energy landscape, asserting that it requires the collective efforts of countless individuals to secure its role in the nation’s power system. She states, “It’s time we start focusing on how we can really, really incorporate nuclear into our power system.” Grace Stanke’s unwavering dedication positions her as a pivotal advocate for nuclear power’s clean and sustainable future.