In her early teens, Madison Marsh attended a space camp and met several astronauts. “I just fell in love with the idea of being the first woman on Mars,” she said. So she took flying lessons at age 15 and joined the Air Force Academy to work toward her goal. She loved the thrill of flying and became an Air Force officer. When Marsh, 22, was crowned Miss America in January, she became the first Miss America to also be an active duty member of the military.

She hopes her win will show people that you can achieve anything you set your heart to, and that women can embrace their feminine and strong sides in the service of others. “I love being able to lead others and serve in something that’s bigger than just me,” she said.

American Essence: How do you plan to use your platform as Miss America?

Ms. Marsh: The most important role for me this year as Miss America is to support research on pancreatic cancer on a national level. My mom was Whitney Marsh. She died of pancreatic cancer when she was only 41 years old. There were just 9 months between her diagnosis and her death. My national level goals include diversifying the ways we raise money and lobbying for legislation to get early detection standards implemented nationwide. […]

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