Miss America Grace Stanke returns home to speak to students and members of Rotary Club

Grace Stanke won a scholarship from the Rotary Club while she was a student at Wausau West in 2019
Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 8:10 PM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The Rotary Club of Wausau had quite the special guest for Monday’s meeting and one they didn’t take for granted as reigning Miss America and Wausau native Grace Stanke returned to her home community.

“Given her particular role in celebrity, it was extra special opportunity to have alumni come back and share their life story and how they certainly benefit,” said John Townshend, chairman, Rotary Club Wausau Scholarship Committee. “We’re enormously thankful for her being so gracious to fit us into her schedule as busy as it is.”

“Being back here to connect with the youth and to connect with the people that provided me with that scholarship is such a special opportunity to see two different worlds collide and represent both worlds,” said Stanke. “It’s exciting to talk about what I’ve done, what I recommend to learn from them, what they’re doing, because I have a lot to learn too.”

Along with the Rotary Club, 10 area high school seniors were honored by the club for their leadership and service to the community. Similar to Stanke, they have the chance to receive a well-earned scholarship.

“The impact for them is to be made aware of their scholarship opportunity,” said Townshend.

Being in their shoes at one time, Stanke gave valuable advice to students looking to make an impact. “Stay true to what I stand for, and never say no. That’s something that I believe in is that opportunities will present themselves that lead to things I would’ve never imagined,” she added.

Even with her success, Stanke hopes to one day have other women of Wausau see success of their own.

“I’m sad there isn’t a Miss Wausau competition. So this is kind of a call to everyone watching that maybe it’s time to have a Miss Wausau competition. Promote women that are learning their communication skills, interview, public speaking, building confidence, and empowering women to pursue their dreams.,” she stated.

Stanke, currently a senior at UW-Madison, also shared her advocacy for clean energy. She hopes to see America’s energy portfolio diversified, homes using solar panels in the summer, and use reliable, clean energy.