By Anica Padilla
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) — Fort Carson in Colorado Springs is rooting for one of their soldiers to become the next Miss America! Maura Spence Carroll, a soldier with the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, is on her way to the national competition in Connecticut.

(credit: Spc. Scyrrus Corregidor)

“We wish you luck, Spc. Spence, and we’ll be rooting for you to bring home the crown!” officials posted Wednesday.

Spence Carroll, who works as an intelligence analyst, is the first active duty soldier to represent Colorado in the competition.

“I’m ready to show this country what it looks like to refuse to give up on any of your dreams. Active duty soldier, intelligence analyst, advocate, titleholder, trailblazer, leader – I’m proud of every piece of the patchwork that makes up the woman I am.”

She departed Tuesday to compete in the Miss America Pageant Dec. 12-16.

Spence Carroll says being in the military has a lot more in common with the Miss America organization than most people realize.

“The Miss America organization is built not only on scholarships for young women, but also on service to our community,” says Spence Carroll. “We see the same thing in the military.”

Maura Spence Carroll

(credit: Maura Spence Carroll)

“As someone who was raised by a grandfather who was in the Air Force, and who saw a very real value in giving back to our communities, it just makes sense for me to continue doing something to help others.”

Spence Carroll was granted leave from her military duty to give her time to prepare for the pageant.

She said it is “very cool and surreal to see how much support I have from my leadership, unit, and the Army in general.”

“I can’t say enough how thankful I am to have the backing that I do during my year and as I prepare for Miss America!” she wrote on Facebook.

For her social initiatives, she is focused on ending veteran suicide and improving body positivity for women.

“As someone who struggled with a binge eating disorder with body image issues, it was very difficult for me because I felt like I wasn’t supposed to be a part of body positivity,” says Spence Carroll.

“We need to teach the next generation that the way you look is irrelevant. It’s the way your body makes you feel that’s important. I love my body, not because of the way it looks or because of the way people perceive it, but because it allows me to hike and do my job as a soldier.”

She hopes her appearance in the Miss America pageant will provide a platform to advance awareness about the struggles women and veterans face.

“You job isn’t competing on stage; your job is to share your story. The way I’m doing that is by finding different initiatives and organizations in Colorado and getting out and spreading the message,” she said.

“I talk about mental health care for veterans and servicemembers and just doing what I can to show people that I love Colorado and I want to see it improve. I will do the same thing for our country if I become Miss America.”

 

Anica Padilla