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Harvard student becomes 1st active-duty U.S. Air Force officer to win Miss America title

Air Force Academy senior and newly crowned Miss Colorado Madison Marsh (Instagram/missmadisonmarsh)
January 27, 2024

U.S. Air Force Second Lt. Madison Marsh has a new title: Miss America 2024.

Marsh, a graduate student at Harvard University, is the first active-duty service member to win the national competition, CBS News reported, citing the the Air Force.

Marsh, who was crowned Miss Colorado in 2023, graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2023 with a degree in physics, according to her official Miss Colorado biography. She represented the Rocky Mountain State in the national pageant on Sunday night, according to published reports.

According to her biography, Marsh currently is a graduate intern at the Harvard Medical School, where where she’s studying how to utilize artificial intelligence to detect pancreatic cancer. It’s an effort that has family ties.

In 2018, following her mother’s death from pancreatic cancer, Marsh founded the Whitney Marsh Foundation in her memory. The foundation has since raised more than a quarter-million dollars, according to her biography.

Marsh, who was awarded a Truman Scholarship, is pursuing a master’s degree in public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School, according to her biography.

Last month, Marsh told fellow airmen at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada that she was ” trying to make it a positive thing for the Air Force, for everyone,” CBS News reported

In an interview with the Air Force Institute of Technology, Marsh called her Miss Colorado win “surreal.”

The “Miss America organization that I’m a part of now is all focused on what you can provide for the community through your social impact, making sure that you have a stellar resume, that you’re good at public speaking, that you can connect with people and are empowered to lead in other ways that’s not just about you,” Marsh continued.

“It’s an awesome experience to bring both sides of the favorite parts of my life together and hopefully make a difference for others to be able to realize that you don’t have to limit yourself,” Marsh said. “In the military, it’s an open space to really lead in the way that you want to lead – in and out of uniform. I felt like pageants, and specifically winning Miss Colorado, was a way to truly exemplify that and to set the tone to help make other people feel more comfortable finding what means most to them.”


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