On Sunday night, Miss America 2019 aired live from Atlantic City’s historic Boardwalk Hall.
Those who tune in to the show each year may have noticed some changes in this year’s competition. Not only was the swimsuit portion eliminated this year, but fans also said goodbye to the evening gown section.
Miss Connecticut Bridget Oei, originally from Hebron, Connecticut, was named the runner-up. Here’s what you should know about her.
1. She Graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Connecticut
Bridget graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Connecticut with an honors degree in environmental chemistry.
She has made community service and volunteer work her focus, and traveled to the Dominican Republic on a medical service trip during her time at UConn.
After winning the crown for Miss Connecticut, Bridget was asked if there was a specific goal she’d like to accomplish during her time as Miss Connecticut. She said, “My greatest goal for my year as Miss Connecticut is to leave every young individual I meet and interact with feeling inspired and excited for their own future. I hope by sharing my story and experiences, I can ignite passion in our young people to pursue whatever it is they love.”
2. Her Talent Is Irish Step Dancing
Sunday’s contestants showed off a variety of skills including dancing, playing the piano, and singing. Bridget took the stage to showcase her Irish step dancing talents.
Fans of the Miss America runner-up may also be impressed to learn that she is an accomplished classical ballet dancer. At Uconn, she was a dancer and choreographer with the UConn Dance Company.
Asked by Section 36 what she likes most about performing her Irish dance talent on stage, Bridget said, “As a competitive Irish dancer, I feel most comfortable when I am on stage performing what I love. I especially enjoy the opportunity to express emotions to an audience and showcase my culture through Irish dancing.”
3. She Plans on Attending Medical School
Bridget studied environmental chemistry at UConn. In total, she was able to earn $17,500 through scholarship winnings. She hopes to attend medical school.
According to Today UConn, not long after beginning her freshman year at UConn, Oei received a grant to research a medical device that “powers pacemakers using energy from the human breath.” The project is one that earned her a second prize win at the International Science and Engineering Fair.
She tells the outlet, “I loved that UConn believed in me and thought my crazy idea was worth investing in.” Oei hopes to obtain a patent for the device.
4. Her Platform Is Women in STEM
Bridget’s social impact initiative is Women in STEM: Inspiring the Next Generation of Innovators.
Her bio page on Miss America states, “Through her platform, Women in STEM: Inspiring the Next Generation of Innovators, Bridget uses her experiences in science research to encourage young women to explore their own potential in STEM. Bridget believes in research as a creative approach to solving daily science inquiries. She hopes to ignite curiosity among young women to think outside of the box as they explore the world around them, leading them to envision their potential as innovators and leaders in STEM fields.”
Speaking on CT Style Live not long after winning the crown for Miss Connecticut, Bridget said, “What I want to send out to Connecticut is this message that science and technology is an endeavor that woman need to come to the forefront in. And it starts in sixth, seventh grade.”
5. She Plays the Violin, Fiddle, and Piano
When she isn’t busy with school, Oei is an active participant in the arts. She knows how to play the fiddle, violin, and piano.
On top of that, Bridget sails and surfs.
Asked what her favorite part about riding the waves is by Section 36, Bridget said, “I love spending many hours out on the water with other surfers and the community that we build out on the water. In addition, the adrenaline rush of catching a wave is like no other! I particularly enjoy the focus and balance that catching a wave requires, and then when the wave is caught, it’s pure fun from there!”