US air force officer Madison Marsh crowned Miss America 2024

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Madison Marsh had already established herself as a notable figure—an officer in the US Air Force and a graduate student at Harvard University—when she graced the stage at the 2024 Miss America pageant on Sunday night.

By the conclusion of the evening, she had etched another remarkable achievement onto her résumé: becoming the first active-duty military service member to be crowned Miss America in the century-old pageant’s history.

Expressing her excitement in an interview shared on the pageant’s Instagram page after her win, the 22-year-old Marsh stated, “I’m very excited to get to represent women who can break stereotypes.”

Dedication to her victory resonated in her words as she paid tribute to her mother, who succumbed to pancreatic cancer in 2018, remarking, “You can achieve anything…

If I can come from a small town, not being a part of the pageant community, step into this role, so can you.”

Marsh’s journey toward the Miss America title was marked by ambitious pursuits long before her recent triumph.

Beginning her tenure at the US Air Force Academy with a pilot’s license and aspirations of becoming an astronaut, she later joined graduate-level public policy classes at the Harvard Kennedy School through a unique partnership with the Air Force.

While holding the military rank of 2nd Lt and excelling in physics and astronomy classes, Marsh broadened her horizons by venturing into pageantry during her initial year at the Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs.

She viewed these competitions as opportunities for community service and enhancing her public speaking skills, according to reports.

These endeavors paved the way for Marsh to secure the title of Miss Colorado in May, consequently qualifying her for the prestigious Miss America pageant, founded in 1921.

For the talent segment in Orlando, Florida, she delivered a poignant monologue recounting the challenges she overcame during her first solo flight at the age of 16.

The Air Force promptly extended its congratulations to Marsh, highlighting her achievement as the first active-duty service member to claim the title.

“Congratulations to our very own airman, 2nd Lt Madison Marsh, Miss Colorado – who was just crowned Miss America 2024!” the Air Force exclaimed on X (formerly Twitter).

“Marsh is the first active duty service member to ever win the title. #AimHigh.”

Taking to Instagram on Monday, Marsh shared, “Here’s to showing the world that women can do anything.”

She outlined her plans for the year as Miss America, focusing on raising awareness about pancreatic cancer through a foundation named after her late mother, Whitney Marsh.

“To my momma – this whole year is for you,” Marsh wrote.

“If you were in the audience last night, I know you would have been my first hug.

The world is about to know your story, light, and love.”

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