Fort Smith native, Southside graduate crowned Miss America 2024

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 2,460 views 

2nd Lt. Madison Marsh pictured shortly after being crowned Miss America 2023. (photo courtesy of Tracy Person)

2nd Lt. Madison Marsh, a Southside High School (Fort Smith) graduate and recent U.S. Air Force graduate now enrolled at Harvard, was selected Sunday (Jan. 14) as winner of the Miss America 2024 scholarship pageant.

Marsh, was competing as Miss Colorado after having won Miss U.S. Air Force Academy in May 2022.

Marsh and her family – father Mike and sister Heidi – are also known in the Fort Smith area for Whitney’s Race. The race is held in honor of her mother, who died at 41 from pancreatic cancer – just 10 months after her diagnosis.

The Whitney Marsh Foundation has raised more than $230,000 since 2019 to support cancer research. Part of the support includes giving $85,000 to the MD Anderson Pancreatic Cancer Moonshot program, $95,000 each to Mercy Fort Smith and Baptist-Fort Smith, and a donation of $40,000 to Mercy Fort Smith to help fund pancreatic cancer detection testing.

In a Fall 2023 visit to Fort Smith, Marsh thanked the school district for helping her through a tough loss.

“Southside was a particularly instrumental part of the young woman I am today because in 2018, I lost my Mom to pancreatic cancer, and I just really saw how the students, the faculty–specifically my principal, really rallied around me and was there for me in the times that were the hardest moments. Because of their support and love and what they did for me inside of school and outside of school – it led me to get to go to the Air Force Academy,” Marsh said in this report from the school district.

Southside High School Principal Jeff Prewitt praised Marsh’s resiliency.

“We are excited to see the success that Madison is experiencing. As a student, her drive and dedication were second to none and caused her to stand out in a crowd,” Prewitt said in a statement. “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.”

In a recent interview with the Harvard Crimson, Marsh said she hopes her story so far provides a positive message to young girls.

“The sky is not the limit. It’s not the limit for me, because I fly planes up there, people go to space up there, women go up there, and so women can do it all,” she said.

U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, has been a mentor to Marsh and has helped introduce her to Congressional leaders in her pursuit for cancer funding research. He posted this message after she was crowned Miss America.

“CONGRATULATIONS to Fort Smith’s Madison Marsh who was just crowned Miss America 2024!!! I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Madison grow up over the years, and I couldn’t be more proud of her on this unbelievable accomplishment! Her remarkable strength and story will be an inspiration for young women all across America!”

Founded in 1921, the Miss America Scholarship Foundation seeks to empower women to lead through education/scholarships, style and success. The foundation works to identify deserving candidates and award academic scholarships to young women throughout the United States.