Under normal circumstances, Army CPS. Maura Spence-Carroll - who was crowned Miss Colorado 2021 earlier this year - would prepare for an upcoming overseas deployment.
Instead , she helps her fellow soldiers prepare for their rotation to Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and will remain at Fort Carson near Colorado Springs.
" I volunteered and my unit said ' No, you will have to go to Miss America '- that was before I was Miss Colorado ... so they didn ' t put me on the manifesto "she said.e told Fox News.
Spence-Carroll, 21, intelligence analyst with 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, will remain with other serving soldiers. active in her unit as she prepares for the December Miss America Pageant in Connecticut.
The Katy, Texas native has been competing for years. She joined the military in 2018 after a college semester when she realized the cost and the accumulation of debt was not worth pursuing a degree. One day, an army line caught her eye and she enlisted after talking to a friend who had served.
Army CPS. Maura Spence-Carroll is crowned Miss Colorado. She will participate in the Miss America pageant in December. (Army / Spc. Matthew Marsilia)
In tBefore Miss Colorado, one of her passionate endeavors is bringing mental health into the military and veteran community and erasing the stigma attached to it. Growing up, she lived with anxiety, depression, and undiagnosed Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Last year, she sought help and was officially diagnosed with ADHD after first battling in the military.
"We really need to take care of mental health now and show the new generations of soldiers who are arriving that mental health care is something we don't care much about and don't do . I don't think that's scary, "she said. "It's just one thing we are taking care of.
Her determination comes from a series of overwhelming challenges, including the death of her 5-year-old sister who took care of herself. drowned in 2015 after falling from a dock. Spence-Carroll said that heknew that her sister was always with her, especially lly during the pageant competitions.
"I have a photo collection where I wear my crown and belt of being a local titular teenager… and she just wanted to be right next to me ", a she declared. "We were very close even though we had this big age difference.
"I kind of had an eye-opener when I started talking about how to prevent the military from committing suicide is that we "We are not just trying to help the military themselves, but I don't want their family members to suffer a loss. It never leaves you, "she said. " It 's heavy on your shoulders for the rest of your life. I watched how my mother suffered. "
At her funeral, Spence Carroll promised that her sister would take her to Miss America.
" Now that I won Miss Colorado and that Iheading to Miss America, I feel like I'm keeping that promise to her, "she said, according to an Army press release.
Army Spc. Maura Spence-Carroll. (Army / Spc. Matthew Marsilia)
The unfortunate death of her sister has was associated the following year with the passing of his grandfather, Bob Boyett, was an Air Force veteran who worked in military intelligence at the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD ) in Colorado Springs and was involved in at least four plane crashes and worked with the CIA after his military service, Spence-Carroll said.
Along with his sister, they are his main motivation she said.Her grandfather instilled in her a sense of service and astrong work ethic, she said.
Spence-Carroll's entry into the beauty pageant world began at age 13 at her mother's behest , who spent years as a professional singer in a Celtic folk-rock band and taught classical music to her daughter.
"I guess being a weird kid in general, I would hang out in the playground, "she mentioned. "She thought it would be a really good idea to do something to help build my confidence. When she first told me that I could compete, I was so excited. delighted. "
" What this has helped me realize is that there isn't a single idea of beauty " -she adds. "We tend to think of beauty like you are pretty or you are not and there is no binary in this world. Be involved in this organization and do what I do there will take days when thepeople think I am beautiful and others don't. I shouldn't change myself or the way I think or feel or present myself because it's not authentic. "
Spc Army. Maura Spence holds her crown. (Army / CPS. Matthew Marsilia)
Her road to Miss America began in February when she was crowned Miss Fort Carson. she was "the sickest I have ever been in my life " with the data COVID-19 and had to be quarantined froms other soldiers.
She is thrilled to compete for the crown of Miss America, but disappointed that she cannot deploy to Iraq with her unit, she said.
"I said 'I will extend the deployment ' " said Spence-Carroll. "You join because you want to do this. Hopefully when I'm in the reserve next year ... that I can get a deployment or two under my belt.