Monday, June 6, 2016

Army Reserve officer Deshauna Barber crowned Miss USA 2016

Miss USA Deshauna Barber

Meet Miss USA: Deshauna Barber 

Say hello to your new Miss USA, Miss District of Columbia! 

Deshauna Barber was presented her crown by the 2015 winner, Olivia Jordan of Oklahoma. The annual pageant was held Sunday in Las Vegas and saw 52 contestants vying for the crown. The daughter of a retired Army master sergeant, Barber was commissioned as a Quartermaster Officer in 2011. 
She is currently a Logistics Commander for the 988th Quartermaster Detachment Unit at Fort Meade, Maryland, and works full time as an IT Analyst for the U.S. Department of Commerce, according to her profile on the competition's website.  
Barber is the first-ever military member to win Miss USA. In a press conference following the event, the 26-year-old lieutenant from Northeast DC said she plans to take a break from the Army Reserves and had already discussed with superiors the possibility of going inactive for a couple of years should she win the title. She said she currently serves two days per month.
"My commander should be watching right now," Barber said. "Two days a month is definitely not active duty. It is an obligation that I signed up for but they are very flexible in the United States Army Reserves."
Barber said she plans to use the pageant's spotlight and her title to support veteran's causes and tackle the issue of suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder among military members. 
The Department of Commerce IT analyst and Army Reserve logistics commander didn't mince words when asked her thoughts on women in the military during the interview round of competition, and it earned her the title of Miss USA 2016.

"The Pentagon recently made the decision to open up all combat jobs to women," said judge Joe Zee, noting how it was a personal issue for Barber. "Now some have questioned if this has put political correctness over our military’s ability to perform at the highest level. What are your thoughts?"

The newly crowned queen wasted no time with her impeccable response.

"As a woman in the United States Army, I think it is an amazing job by our government to allow women to integrate into every branch of the military," she said as the crowd erupted

"We are just as tough as men. As a commander of my unit I am powerful, I am dedicated and it's important to recognize that gender does not limit us in the United States Army."

Miss District of Columbia USA 2016 Deshauna BarberThe 5-foot-10 model graduated from Virginia State University in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in business management. She later attended the University of Maryland University College, where she earned a master’s degree in management information systems. 

Barber is a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. According to the nonprofit sisterhood’s website, its mission is to “enhance the quality of life within the community. Public service, leadership development and education of youth are the hallmark of the organization’s programs and activities. Sigma Gamma Rho addresses concerns that impact society educationally, civically and economically.”

The sorority, which has more than 500 chapters and was founded at Butler University in Indianapolis in November 1922, posted a congratulatory message via Facebook on Monday, June 6, writing, “The excitement continues! Congratulations to the new Miss USA, Soror Deshauna Barber! Soror Barber joined Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. in Spring 2009 through Alpha Zeta Chapter at Virginia State University. She wore that gold dress Sunday night and won the crown!”
According to her Miss USA bio, the Columbus, Georgia, native loves to dance, hike and spend her free time with family. She is also passionate about advocating for military soldiers in an attempt to break stereotypes.
During the competition on Sunday, she stated, “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. We can be feminine, we can be in beauty contests, and we can be models. So there are stereotypes on both sides that I feel like I’m breaking by even being here and being able to compete for Miss USA.”
Miss USA Deshauna Barber
For the final judging round, these three women were each asked the same question, which was to define "confidently beautiful" (an unofficial theme of the evening). Miss Georgia said it was about loving your flaws, and Miss Hawaii said it was about making other people feel loved, but it was Miss D.C.'s answer that really got the crowd excited as she took the opportunity to highlight her military experience, arguing it was about being able to earn others' respect, despite your appearance.

Second Runner-Up: Miss Georgia (Emanii Davis)
First Runner-up: Miss Hawaii (Chelsea Hardin)
WINNER: Miss District of Columbia, Deshauna Barber! Miss D.C. was clearly a favorite throughout the competition, both for her major achievement in smizing, and her impressive job as both an IT Analyst for the U.S. Department of Commerce and a Logistics Commander for the 988th Quartermaster Detachment Unit. Not too shabby Miss USA, not too shabby.

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