Deshauna Barber became the first serving military personnel and the ninth African-American woman to be crowned Miss USA.
This great feat did not come on a platter of gold. She failed several times in an attempt to snatch the ultimate.
In the summer of 2009 when Barber was 19, she was approached by a strange woman in what she perceived to be a racial encounter. That encounter would later lead her into the world of pageantry.
The strange woman didn’t just tell her she was beautiful, but also convinced her to compete in a pageant. The two set up a meeting the next day where she was greeted by a “foot-tall stack of pageant books.”
Eventually, she convinced Barber, who was in the military to pursue pageantry. However, to win a Miss USA, you ought to have won a state pageant. Three months later, she entered her first pageant and lost.
She competed in the state pageant continuously for six times and lost every time. At this point, she called the woman to express her frustrations, but she was told to keep trying.
Somehow she managed to survive both military and planning for the pageant. “I’m really big on time management, and I think that’s another discipline the military taught me,” Barber said. “I have a real hour-by-hour planner. I literally had to plan out 30-minute intervals of what I was doing each and every day to balance work, my master’s degree and my command position in the military, so time management is the biggest thing that you can have to be successful.”
Unfortunately, in June 2015, the woman passed away from leukemia. Six months later, in December 2015, on her 7th trial, she won Miss District of Columbia, USA.
Precisely six months after her victory, in June of 2016, Barber became the first soldier to win Miss USA.
“Do not fear failure, but please be terrified of regret,” she said.
“Don’t be afraid of Nos, be afraid of the possibility of a Yes that you have prematurely destroyed because you decided to quit before the clock strikes 12”.
She spent her reign partnering with the USO, Smiletrain, Best Buddies, Operation Homefront and numerous organizations that focus on the betterment of people around the world.
Barber is a proud graduate of Virginia State University, a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. “Attending Virginia State University was one of the best decisions I could’ve ever made. If anything, it built up my confidence as an African-American woman”.
Army Captain Barber is a top requested black, female motivational speaker and a sexual abuse survivor who has made it her life-goal to encourage, inspire and strengthen the people around her.
She is a logistics commander in the United States Army Reserve. In 2011, she commissioned as a Quartermaster Officer and has been serving her country ever since, spending much of her career focused on advocating for soldiers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).