Las Vegas, NV (AP) - A South Carolina State University graduate is the new Miss USA.

Kara McCullough, a chemist working for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, was crowned Sunday during the event that took place at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on the Las Vegas Strip. She will go on to compete on the Miss Universe contest.

McCullough was born in Naples, Italy, but she was raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She graduated from SC State in 2013 with a degree in chemistry with an emphasis on radiochemistry.

She also won Miss SC State University back in 2012.

It's the second straight year the District of Columbia has won. Last year, District of Columbia resident Deshauna Barber became the first-ever military member to win Miss USA.

The runner-up was Miss New Jersey Chhavi Verg. The second runner-up was Miss Minnesota Meridith Gould. Fifty-one women representing each state and the nation's capital participating in the decades-old competition.

PHOTOS: SC State Graduate Wins Miss South Carolina