(NEW YORK) — History was made Sunday night at the 2024 Miss America pageant.
Miss Colorado Madison Marsh was crowned Miss America, becoming the first active-duty military service member to win the title in the pageant’s nearly 100-year history, according to the U.S. Air Force.
Marsh, 22, is a second lieutenant in the Air Force and recently graduated from the Air Force Academy in Colorado.
“I’m very excited to get to represent women who can break stereotypes,” Marsh said in an interview shared on Miss America’s Instagram story, adding that she is looking forward to sharing “what it means to be a member of the military community and Miss America.”
When asked what advice she wants to share with other women, Marsh said, 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 win, sharing a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that featured photos of Marsh in uniform and winning the Miss America title.
The Air Force captioned the photos with the hashtag #AimHigh.
Marsh graduated from the Air Force Academy with a degree in physics and a focus on astronomy. She is now pursuing a master’s degree in public policy at Harvard Kennedy School, according to her competition biography.
In an interview with the university’s newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, Marsh said she sees similarities 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 said. “When I put on the crown and sash, I’m serving, representing my community.”
Marsh, who was crowned Miss Colorado last May, told the newspaper that she started competing in pageants during in her first year at the Air Force Academy.
“I don’t think I ever would have gotten into Harvard if I wouldn’t have gone to the Air Force Academy,” Marsh said. “I don’t think I ever would have become Miss Colorado without the Air Force Academy because they have trained me and honed in on my leadership.”
Marsh said she plans to devote her year of service as Miss America to raising awareness about pancreatic cancer, a disease that led to the death of her mom. Marsh’s foundation for pancreatic cancer research and advocacy is named the Whitney Marsh Foundation, in honor of her late mother.
“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,” Marsh said in her post-win interview, shared on Miss America’s Instagram story.
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