By Sonia Billadeau
In the span of 14 years and for the third time in history, Miss District of Columbia was crowned Miss USA on June 5, 2016. The 26-year-old Army Reserve officer and IT analyst for the U.S. Department of Commerce, Deshauna Barber, won first place, according to the Washington Post.
Before she became the representative of the nation’s capital in the pageant, Barber wanted to make certain that the mold be broken, not only for Miss USA contenders, but for martial soldiers.
“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 [and] 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.”
At age 17, Barber joined the military, following in her parents’ and siblings’ footsteps. According to her Miss USA bio, Barber is currently a logistics commander for the 988th Quartermaster Detachment Unit in Fort Meade, MD.
Barber also has an extensive education with a Bachelor’s degree in business management from Virginia University and a Master’s degree in management information systems from the University of Maryland University College.
Pageant announcers called Barber “the most disciplined contestant this year.” During the Q&A section, some have said Barber’s answer to a particular question awarded her the crown:
Q: “The Pentagon recently made the decision to open up all combat jobs to women,” Judge Joe Zee said. “Now, some have questioned whether this has put political correctness over our military’s ability to perform at the highest level. What are your thoughts?”
Her answer: “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,” Barber said to applause from the audience. “As a commander of my unit, I am powerful. I am dedicated. And it is important that we recognize that gender does not limit us in the United States Army.”
Now, Barber will represent the United States at the Miss Universe 2016 pageant, where she will compete against current titleholder Pia Wurtzbach– a 26-year-old actress from the Philippines, according to US Magazine.
Deshauna Barber is an inspiration to all women who want to break the mold of stereotypes and become all that they can become.