A groundbreaking moment unfolded on Sunday night during the 2024 Miss America pageant.
Miss Colorado Madison Marsh secured the prestigious title of Miss America, marking a historic achievement as the first active-duty military service member to claim the crown in the pageant’s nearly century-long history, as per the U.S. Air Force.
At 22 years old, Marsh holds the rank of second lieutenant in the Air Force, having recently graduated from the Air Force Academy in Colorado.
Expressing her enthusiasm, Marsh conveyed in an interview shared on Miss America’s Instagram story, “I’m very excited to get to represent women who can break stereotypes.”
She eagerly anticipates sharing her experiences and shedding light on “what it means to be a member of the military community and Miss America.”
In response to a question about the advice she would offer to other women, Marsh stated, in part, “You can achieve anything.
The sky is not the limit, and the only person that’s stopping you is you.”
The U.S. Air Force celebrated Marsh’s victory, posting on X (formerly known as Twitter) featuring photos of Marsh in uniform and her Miss America triumph.
Marsh, with a degree in physics and a focus on astronomy from the Air Force Academy, is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy at Harvard Kennedy School, according to her competition biography.
In an interview with The Harvard Crimson, Marsh drew parallels between military service and pageantry, explaining that with both, “you’re serving but in a different way.”
“When I put on my uniform, I serve and I represent our country,” she expressed.
“When I put on the crown and sash, I’m serving, representing my community.”
Crowned as Miss Colorado in May of the previous year, Marsh revealed to the newspaper that she began participating in pageants during her first year at the Air Force Academy.
Reflecting on her journey, she emphasized the role of the Air Force Academy in shaping her leadership skills and contributing to her achievements, including gaining admission to Harvard and becoming Miss Colorado.
For the talent segment of the Miss America competition, Marsh delivered a compelling spoken word performance, narrating her journey of obtaining her private pilot’s license at the young age of 16.
Expressing her commitment, Marsh outlined her plans for her Miss America year of service. She aims to raise awareness about pancreatic cancer, a disease that claimed the life of her mother.
In dedication to her late mother, Marsh established the Whitney Marsh Foundation, focused on pancreatic cancer research and advocacy.
In an interview following her victory, shared on Miss America’s Instagram story, Marsh articulated, “I really want to be able to go global with pancreatic cancer and share my mom’s story and be able to raise money and increase research funds for pancreatic cancer.”