The untold truth of Miss America 2018

Miss North Dakota, Cara Mund, made history on Sept. 10, 2017, when she was crowned Miss America 2018 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. The 23-year-old beauty hailing from Bismarck, N.D. is the first contestant from the Peace Garden State to win the top prize, and she brings to the honor a long list of impressive personal achievements. Here's what you need to know about America's reigning beauty queen.  

She deferred law school to compete

Not only is Mund the first North Dakota resident to win the Miss America title, she's also the first "modern" Ivy League graduate to earn the crown, according to NJ.com(Evelyn Ay Sempier, a University of Pennsylvania aluma, won in 1954.) 

Mund actually pressed pause on her top shelf education—she was admitted to Notre Dame Law School but deferred for one year—to pursue the top pageant prize. This was her fourth and final attempt at winning the state crown. Obviously, she succeeded, moved onto the national prize, won that tiara too, and thus fulfilled what she told judges was an item on her "bucket list."

"I had always dreamed of being Miss America," Mund said during a post-show press conference, also revealing that her N.D. hometown has another famous alumni: Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. "It doesn't matter where you come from. If you have the Miss America spirit, you can do it," she said.  

She's a pageant lifer

According to The Bismarck Tribune, Mund fell in love with pageants at age 5 when she was invited to be a "pageant page" or "person who carries the crown in" at a pageant in which her cousin was competing. That's what gave her "the bug." When asked if she felt pageantry was what she was "meant to do," Mund said, "I feel like since I started at such a young age and won right away, that there is a reason." 

Since then, she's been collecting titles, including little miss North Dakota, Pre-Teen Miss North Dakota, Junior Miss North Dakota, and Outstanding Teen North Dakota, according to her parents, who spoke to KFYR TV. Now that she's achieved the highest prize in pageantry, you might be thinking, "Where does she go from here?" but hang on, because this high-achiever has big goals.

More about her historic win

Not only is Mund the first North Dakotan to don the Miss America crown and sash, she's also just one of four contestants in the state's pageant history to make it into the top ten, according to Us Weekly.

On top of that, according to Statistic Brain, Mund is among the select minority of winners who've "performed a dance" for the talent portion of the competition. As of 2017, only 18 percent of overall winners claimed the crown after cutting a rug during the talent portion, whereas the majority of contestants who have gone on to win "sang a song" for their talent. Mund performed a routine choreographed to Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel."

She's a seriously trained dancer

Aside from slaying it in pageants, Mund has been a competitive dancer for years. According to The Bismarck Tribune, she "trained with the Radio City Rockettes," was a "guest performer on a Hawaiian cruise ship," and scored a part as an extra in a Brad Paisley music video.

She has political aspirations

Beyond her academic pursuits, Mund reportedly intends to pursue a political career. In 2016, she interned in Sen. John Hoeven's Washington D.C. office, where, according to her LinkedIn, she worked on issues such as the Dakota Access Pipeline, helped manage the senator's press relations, attended congressional hearings, and provided "written correspondence specializing in North Dakota and national health care issues."

In an interview with The Associated Press (via the New York Post), Mund said she's already got her eye on the governor's seat in her home state. She stressed the importance of women's roles in government. "It's important to have a woman's perspective. In health care and on reproductive rights, it's predominantly men making those decisions." While she's undoubtedly ambitious, there could also be a genetic component to Mund's political drive.

She's related to the first woman who ran for president

According to Mund's Miss America profile page, she's "related to Victoria Claflin Woodhull—the first woman to run for U.S. President, the first woman to operate a brokerage firm on Wall Street, and one of the first females to found a newspaper." 

According to VOA News, Woodhull "ran in the 1872 election as the Equal Rights Party nominee," even though she "could not legally vote for herself," because the 19th Amendment would not come to pass for several decades. Woodhall wasn't even old enough to run for president—she was only 34 at the time—but even that didn't stop her. That kind of relentless passion was clearly passed on to her pageant-dominating ancestor.

She founded a Make-A-Wish fashion show

One of Mund's biggest accomplishments outside of the pageant world is her philanthropic organization, "Making a Wish: Passion with Fashion." According to The Bismarck Tribune, Mund has been working "for the past ten years" alongside Make-A-Wish North Dakota, organizing "a fashion show which benefits North Dakota Wish Children." In that time, her efforts have reportedly "raised $78,500 and granted 23 wishes for North Dakota children."

In an emotional Instagram post, Mund revealed that her work with the charity started in 2007 when two of her classmates, Amber DesRoches and Kayla Hillestad, battled cancer. DesRoches passed away, and Hillestad became a recipient of the Make-A-Wish program, which piqued Mund's interest in working with the program. Not only does Mund's charity work continue to help other young people cope with terminal illness, but the memory of her friends lives on in the name of a worthy cause.

She was a Kappa Delta sorority sister

While studying at the prestigious Brown University in Rhode Island, Mund found sisterhood with the Kappa Delta sorority. In fact, according to the Fusion Dance Company—a performing arts organization with whom Mund was involved—she was the president of the sorority in 2016.  

Kappa Delta was quick to congratulate its sister after her big win. The sorority tweeted, "Congrats to the new #MissAmerica 2018, KD @MissAmericaND. Your sisters are all so proud of you! #aot"