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She's a Lawyer Who Represents Inmates. And Now, Miss USA

Cheslie Kryst of North Carolina wins 2019 crown
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 3, 2019 5:56 AM CDT
Miss North Carolina Cheslie Kryst wins the 2019 Miss USA final competition in the Grand Theatre in the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nev., on Thursday, May 2, 2019.   (Jason Bean/The Reno Gazette-Journal via AP)
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(Newser) – A 27-year-old lawyer from North Carolina who represents prison inmates for free won the Miss USA title Thursday night. Asked in the final round to use one word to summarize her generation, Cheslie Kryst of Charlotte said "innovative," reports the AP. "I'm standing here in Nevada, in the state that has the first female majority legislature in the entire country," she said at the event held for the first time in Reno. "Mine is the first generation to have that forward-looking mindset that has inclusivity, diversity, strength, and empowered women. I'm looking forward to continued progress in my generation." New Mexico's Alejandra Gonzalez, the first runner-up, and Oklahoma's Triana Browne, the second runner-up, helped highlight the diversity of the competition on stage as the three finalists along with Kryst, who is African American.

Browne said she's a proud member of the Chickasaw Nation; her father is white and her mother is African American. She's in a partnership with Nike to promote a brand that celebrates Native American heritage. Gonzalez, whose mother immigrated to the United States from Mexico, founded a nonprofit that teaches children the importance of being literate. Kryst earned a law degree and an MBA at Wake Forest University before becoming a civil litigation attorney who does pro bono work to reduce sentences for inmates. In a videotaped message played during the two-hour event at a hotel-casino, she told a story of when a judge at a legal competition told her to wear a skirt instead of pants because judges prefer skirts. "Glass ceilings can be broken wearing either a skirt or pants," Kryst said.

(Read more Miss USA stories.)

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