Fort Smith Southside grad Marsh captures 2024 Miss America title

Madison Marsh, a 2019 graduate of Fort Smith Southside High School, was crowned Miss America 2024 on Sunday.
Madison Marsh, a 2019 graduate of Fort Smith Southside High School, was crowned Miss America 2024 on Sunday.

Madison Marsh, a 2019 graduate of Fort Smith Southside High School, was crowned Miss America 2024 on Sunday.

Marsh, 22, represented the state of Colorado in this year’s competition.

The Fort Smith School District issued a news release on its website celebrating her accomplishment.

“Madison’s triumphs have not only brought pride and honor to Fort Smith Public Schools but also highlighted the transformative influence that her time at Southside High School had on her journey,” the release states. “Her perseverance amidst difficult circumstances is an inspiration and testament to other students that they, too, can reach remarkable heights with hard work and resilience.”

Marsh is a 2023 U.S. Air Force Academy graduate with a degree in physics, according to the release.

She has a black belt in Taekwondo and is pursuing her master’s degree in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School at Harvard University.

She interned at NASA, researching gamma-ray bursts and conducting limiting magnitude studies with the Virgin Islands Robotic Telescope, according to the release.

According to the Miss Colorado website, Marsh was the first active duty Air Force officer to be a Miss America contestant, as she is a second lieutenant in the Air Force.

Marsh’s mother died from pancreatic cancer in 2018, which inspired Marsh to begin the Whitney Marsh Foundation along with her family. The foundation raises money and awareness for pancreatic cancer to honor her mother’s life and hosts a 5- and 10-kilometer race each year in Fort Smith, according to the release.

“Mom is so proud of you, Madison,” Marsh’s sister, Heidi, shared on social media Sunday. “I cannot express how I feel right now. I love you more than anything. You deserve this so much.”

U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., spoke about Marsh at the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce’s First Friday Breakfast at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith on Jan. 5.

Womack said he recently spoke with Marsh, and she reminded him he called her the day before her mother died to tell her she had been accepted to the Air Force Academy. He said her being a Fort Smith native means the city is partially responsible for her achievements.

“She brings great credit to our city and certainly to the Third District of Arkansas,” Womack said.

While at Southside, Marsh demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities and a strong commitment to community involvement, the release states.

“We are excited to see the success that Madison is experiencing,” Southside Principal Jeff Prewitt said. “As a student, her drive and dedication were second to none and caused her to stand out in a crowd. Her resilience in bouncing back from some extremely challenging and life-changing experiences is a true testament to her character. We are so very proud of her and what she has been able to accomplish and look forward to seeing the great things that lie ahead for her.”

Marsh succeeds the 2023 Miss America, Grace Stanke of Wisconsin. She is the fourth Miss Colorado to be named Miss America, following Rebecca Ann King in 1973, Marilyn Van Derbur in 1957 and Sharon Ritchie in 1955.

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