A 26-year-old Army officer and IT analyst for the U.S. Department of Commerce just won the Miss USA pageant. Having won Miss District of Columbia earlier this year, 1st Lt. Deshauna Barber took home the Miss USA crown on June 5.
Barber comes from a family of service members. Her father served, as do her siblings, and she has been serving since she enlisted at 17. After graduating from Virginia State University in 2011, she commissioned as a quartermaster officer. Barber now serves as a logistics commander for the 988th Quartermaster Detachment Unit in Fort Meade, Maryland.
“I consider it to be a family tradition,” she said in a pre-show interview. “It’s something that runs through our veins — patriotism and service for this country.”
During the show, she was asked by judge Joe Zee about the Pentagon’s decision to open up all combat jobs to women.
Barber replied, “As a woman in the United States Army, I think it was an amazing job by our government to allow women to integrate to every branch of the military. We are just as tough as men.”
The response was met with roaring applause.
Barber also used the Miss USA pageant as a platform not only to promote female empowerment, but to also shed light on the civilian-military divide.
“I’m being able to say that no one pageant girl does the same thing or has the same background, and I’m also saying that no one soldier has the same background and does the same thing,” Barber said. “We can be feminine, we can be in beauty contests, we can be models. So there’s stereotypes on both sides that I feel like I’m breaking by even being here and being able to compete for Miss USA.”