09/13/2013 05:46 pm ET Updated Nov 13, 2013

Miss America 2014: Looking for a Few Good STEMs

There is so much talk about the importance of women and how to make the economy robust again at the Miss America Organization, the world's leading women's scholarship provider. We are doing something about it.

Studies tell us if you educate women, their contributions will lift the economy and the nation. The Miss America Foundation awarded our first STEM scholarships to two contestants who are beginning their careers in the field: Miss California Crystal Lee and Miss Mississippi Chelsea Rick.

Crystal Lee has two degrees from Stanford -- a B.A. in Human Biology and a Masters in Communication and Media Studies -- and wants to complete another graduate program in what?. Chelsea Rick's career ambition is to become a neurologist, which she's pursuing by attending the William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine.

It was a tough decision to choose only two contestants when 30 percent of our 53 finalists are focused on STEM-focused careers. But it shouldn't be a surprise: over the 93 year history of the Miss America Organization, we have told the young women around the country to come to us and we will help them achieve their dreams through higher education.

This week, the Miss America Scholarship Program will award more than $363,000 in scholarships. Thirteen thousand young women participated this year across the local, state, and national level. This turnout is proof that the Miss America Organization continues to inspire and reach this generation of empowering young women with this call to action.

This year, Governor Chris Christie joined me in bringing Miss America back home to Atlantic City. When you're on the boardwalk this weekend, you might be walking by one of America's future leaders. That's what we do at Miss America: empower young women to ensure our nation has a new generation of leaders.

Mallory Hagan, the 2013 Miss America, worked with the Department of Education's STEM lead, Camsie McAdams, this year to talk with young girls around the country about her own story. Mallory abandoned her original dream of a STEM-career due to a lack of funding and support from her high school to prepare for the rigorous science and math courses in college. She inspired these scholarships, and we thank her for her courageous and inspiring service this year. Tune in on Sunday at 8pm Eastern for ABC's 20/20 special to learn about Mallory's journey of bringing STEM into the national education conversation -- spreading the word that if you educate a woman, you lift the entire community.