And the winner is … ! Miss District of Columbia Deshauna Barber took home the coveted crown at the 2016 Miss USA pageant on Sunday, June 5, beating out runner-up Miss Hawaii Chelsea Hardin and second runner-up Miss Georgia Emanii Davis. Here, Us Weekly rounds up five things to know about the 26-year-old beauty.
1. Barber Is an Army Officer
The newly crowned Miss USA is a logistics commander for the 988th Quartermaster Detachment Unit of the United States Army in Fort Meade, Maryland. She is also an IT analyst for the United States Department of Commerce and plans to use her reign as Miss USA to focus on PTSD treatment for soldiers returning from the war.
Barber, whose parents and siblings also serve, joined the military at age 17, according to the Washington Post. Her father was deployed to Iraq following the September 11 attacks in 2001.
“I consider it to be a family tradition,” she said during a preshow interview. “It’s something that runs through our veins — patriotism and service for this country.”
2. Barber Has a Master’s Degree
The 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.
3. She’s a Sorority Sister
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!”
4. Barber’s Favorite Hobbies Include Dancing and Hiking
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, 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.”
5. Miss USA Will Compete at Miss Universe 2016
Barber will represent the United States at the Miss Universe 2016 pageant later this year, where she will compete to take over the throne from current titleholder Pia Wurtzbach.
Wurtzbach, a 26-year-old actress from the Philippines, was famously crowned the Miss Universe 2015 winner in December after host Steve Harvey erroneously announced Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutiérrez as the winner.
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