A 22-year-old second lieutenant in the US Air Force becomes the first active-duty Air Force officer ever to be crowned Miss America.
Madison Marsh, a master’s student at the Harvard Kennedy School’s public policy program, represented Colorado and achieved the historic win at the 2021 Miss America pageant held in Florida.
The Miss America winner will receive $60,000 in tuition scholarships as well as the opportunity to serve as the Miss America brand ambassador.
Marsh is also a co-founder of the Whitney Marsh Foundation, an organization established in honor of her mother who passed away from pancreatic cancer.
She explained on the Miss Colorado website: “My mom was a huge runner, even when she was going through chemotherapy treatments. When we talked about ways to raise money, we wanted it to remember who my mom was and not what cancer had made her.
“So we started the Whitney Marsh Foundation and specifically hosted a 5K and 10K run every year based out of our hometown in Fort Smith, Arkansas.”
As of this writing, the foundation has raised more than a quarter of a million dollars.
During an interview with The Harvard Crimson, Marsh drew parallels between her participation in pageantry and her military service.
“When I put on my uniform, I serve, and I represent our country. When I put on the crown and sash, I’m serving, representing my community,” she expressed.
The first runner-up in the 2024 pageant was Ellie Breaux of Texas.
The pageant featured 51 contestants representing all US states, along with the District of Columbia.
In the final round, finalists were asked about their goals as Miss America, with Marsh highlighting her commitment to learning and leading ‘with passion’ through her military service.
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