Laura's triumphant walk across the stage was just the beginning of a journey that will take her to every corner of the country during her year of service as Miss America 2012. Miss America 2011 will promote education and the 2012 Miss America will s pend her year touring the country to encourage all young women to pursue a college education, and will focus on driving interest in the arts, as well as science, technology, engineering and math (also known as STEM) education. The Miss America Organization will work with national and community partners to create an unconventional approach to driving young women’s interest in STEM. Our efforts coincide with the national momentum to target female students who are currently underrepresented in STEM professions.
In addition, she will travel approximately 20,000 miles each month speaking to audiences about her platform Circles of Support - Mentoring Children of Incarcerated Parents and acting as the official National Goodwill Ambassador for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for children's hospitals, is the national platform partner of the Miss America Organization.
Laura is a graduate of Carthage College. Her scholastic ambition is to obtain a Master's degree in Speech and Language Pathology and she ultimately hopes to become a speech therapist. Along with the title of Miss America 2012, Laura won a $50,000 scholarship to continue her education. For the talent portion of the competition, Laura performed an operatic rendition of "Il Bacio."
The first runner-up was Miss Oklahoma Betty Thompson who earned a $25,000 scholarship. For her talent, she performed an Irish Step Dance to "Warriors" and her personal platform is MILK, It Really Does a Body Good! Betty was also the winner of ABC's America's Choice an online competition where viewers got the opportunity to vote for their favorite Miss America contestant. The contestant was announced at the beginning of the Miss America broadcast and became the 1st finalist to compete in the live finale.
Second runner-up honors and a $20,000 scholarship were awarded to Miss New York Kaitlin Monte. Her talent was a vocal performance of "Disneyland," and her personal platform is "That's Enough! Coming Together to End Bullying."