By Sgt. Tasha M. Osborne | 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Spc. Maura Spence was born and raised in Katy, Texas, and at the age of 5, she watched Miss America for the first time with much fascination.
She was raised by her parents Cidnie and Mark Carroll and grew up close to her siblings, Sam Lipani and Fiona “Kitty” Carroll. However, in April 2015, Spence lost her sister to an unfortunate accident. Holding onto the memories of her sister helps her to continue her dreams, she said.
“Both the military and the Miss America Organization have helped me to do what I care about most,” said Spence, a contestant for Miss Colorado who is an active-duty Soldier and the reigning Miss Fort Carson. “I want to serve others and make the world a better place for future generations.”
Kitty was Spence’s biggest fan and would always say that after her sister won Miss America, it would be her turn, Spence said.
“I still carry her with me to this day and work toward the dream of competing at Miss America for the both of us,” said Spence. “The greatest act of love is doing things for the ones who can’t.”
From a young age, Spence had an immediate interest, which convinced her to start competing as she grew older. From 2013 to 2016, Spence competed in the Texas Outstanding Teen pageant, and after a three-year break, she returned in 2019 to compete for Miss Texas where she won the college interview.
During her break, in 2017, Spence decided to join the Army as an intelligence analyst. Spence currently serves with 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
“I joined the Army for the life experience,” said Spence. “I wanted to travel and did not want to go into debt when getting a degree.”
Balancing her Army career with the passion for competing in pageants has been a learning experience. Branching out of her comfort zone allowed her to become a more well-rounded person.
“It’s given her a long-term goal to work toward, and that really helps her stay focused,” said Sgt. Glendon Robinson, intelligence analyst, 2nd Bn., 23rd Inf. Reg., 1st SBCT. “She’s learned how to take small steps toward bigger goals and that helps her as she continues in her career.”
Spence will begin working toward her bachelor’s degree in communications at Pikes Peak Community College in September. In the meantime, she is competing for Miss Colorado.
While community service opportunities benefit her military career, they are an expectation when competing in pageants.
“Spc. Spence continuously went above and beyond the call of duty to give back to the community,” said Robinson.
As part of the competition, Spence decided what her social initiative will emphasize. She chose mental health awareness because of her own mental health struggle after the loss of her sister. Seeking help was not easy, but it has helped in many ways, she said.
“Seeking mental health treatment not only improves quality of life, but also vastly reduces the risk of suicide,” said Spence. “Approximately 22 veterans attempt suicide every day, and only four receive treatment beforehand, which shows that proactive and preventative treatment may work.”
Spence shared the memory of her sister that keeps her motivated and the reason she continues serving and competing.
“She could never say my name right. It’s pronounced ‘more-uh’, but she always called me ‘more-NUH’,” said Spence. “There’s a video of her cheering for me at a show choir concert when the rest of the audience was dead silent. ‘Go Morna! GO MORNA!’ It reminds me of how close we were.”