Hamilton Southeastern graduate set for Miss Indiana contest


Kaitlyn Ross has an unusual talent in the Miss Indiana competition.

The Fishers resident will conduct a science experiment during the Miss Indiana competition June 14-17 at STAR Bank Performing Arts Center in Zionsville.

“I’m the only one doing a science demonstration,” Ross said. “I do an experiment on why fireflies glow.”

Ross, a 2019 Hamilton Southeastern High School graduate, qualified for Miss Indiana for the first time by winning the Miss Indiana University title in February. She was second runner-up in Miss IU in 2022, the first year she competed in contests, which are part of the Miss America organization.

“It’s a fun program and I really got close to a lot of the girls, so I made a lot of friends,” Ross said.

Ross, 22, recently graduated from Indiana University with a degree in biology. She plans to attend lU School of Law in Bloomington this fall.

The science demonstration is in keeping with her community service initiative called “Advocating for the Next Generation of STEMnists.”

“I really am passionate about going out in the community and doing outreach, and I also work with a local Girl Scout troop (in Bloomington),” she said. “I co-lead that Girls Scout troop and we really do a lot of science activities, including bird watching, going out in nature and talking about what it means to be a scientist. I really try to focus on showing the young students you don’t need to be in a lab or like an Albert Einstein or really smart IQ-type in order to be a scientist — you could be like me and I study birds.”

She worked as an ornithologist at the Ketterson Lab while at IU.

“I would take care of birds and track where birds were around the area,” she said.

Ross said her plan always was to attend  law school.

“I wanted a science background because I wanted to potentially do health care law or patent law,” she said. “Then I got really passionate about research and birds. I almost sought a Ph.D. in ornithology but decided to go back to law because I couldn’t let that part of me go. I decided to try to do both.”

She was involved in Mock Trial all four years at HSE and We the People. HSE won the We The People state competition in 2018-19 and qualified for the national competition,

“I’m excited to be able to experience (the Miss Indiana competition) and see all my friends,’ she said. “I want to share with the judges my passion for STEM. I’m really service-oriented, I’ve been part of service since I was in Girl Scouts. It’s really exciting to share on this kind of stage.”

Ross was a swimmer from the time she was 6 years old through her junior year in high school.

“Swimming became more competitive and I had to choose between swimming or Girl Scouts,” Ross said. “That’s why I went back to Girl Scouts because it was an impactful part of my life.”