MANSFIELD — Many of Madison Miller’s biggest fans likely weren’t awake when she was crowned Miss Ohio 2023, but she’s looking forward to sharing the news.

Miller, who competed with the local title Miss North Coast, has a passion for connecting with veterans.

Before traveling to Mansfield to compete for the Miss Ohio title, the 23-year-old had a dress rehearsal at a local retirement community, where she modeled her outfits and played the piano piece that would help her win the crown.

Miller regularly volunteers with the Honor Flight Network and even founded her own non-profit The Veteran Narrative, which supports veterans by sharing their stories and fostering connections with younger generations. 

“Once we establish that relationship, we’re able to interview them and send it to the Library of Congress,” she said. “We go into schools, we share their stories and provide students the opportunity to give back.”

Miller is an alumna of Ohio Wesleyan University and social media specialist for Stanley Steemer. This year was her third year competing for the state title.

She took the first runner-up slot in 2022 after a rocky start on the Miss Ohio stage the year before.

“The only time I ever heard my name (the first year) was when I introduced myself. I feel like in those moments, I doubted who I was,” she said.

Before she could become Miss Ohio, Miller had to learn to believe in herself. 

“My first year I learned about the program and I learned about myself. My second year I found who I was. This year, I’m confident in both,” she said. 

“It took that for me to be able to look within and understand that Madison Miller was enough in that moment and she is enough right now.”

For the talent portion of the competition, Miller played Sonata in B Minor K27 on piano. She has been playing piano since the age of 4 and was classically trained. 

In addition to receiving the $10,000 Miss Ohio scholarship, Miller received a preliminary talent award Thursday night and a Paul Herlihy Spirit Award and Betty & Jim Estep Classical Talent Award.

Over her three years competing in the Miss America program, she’s earned more than $17,000.

“It’s the biggest weight off my shoulders. My parents sacrificed so much to send me to school,” she said. “Knowing that I’m going to be almost completely debt-free is the most incredible feeling.”

Miller will have the chance to earn even more in scholarship funding when she competes on the Miss America stage. The date of that competition has yet to be announced. 

In the future, Miller hopes to become the first in her family to earn a master’s degree.

“I hope to go get my MBA and now it’s possible,” she said. “I have large dreams. I hope to change the world. I don’t know exactly how yet, but I pray that God is going to show me the path that I get to walk.”

Saturday’s competition began with 11 semifinalists. After competing once again in each of the program components, the field was narrowed to five finalists who each answered a questions about the role of Miss Ohio. 

Miss Portsmouth, Emily Legenza, was selected first runner-up and received a $4,500 scholarship.

Miss Greater Butler County, Caroline Trennepohl, earned second runner-up and received a $4,000 scholarship.

Third runner-up Miss Shawnee, Baylee Joy Martin, received a $3,500 scholarship. Fourth runner up Miss Maple City, Olivia Kentner, pocketed a $3,000 scholarship. 

The other semifinalists each received $1,000 in scholarships. They included Miss Mahoning Valley, Piper Lambert; Miss Buckeye State, Marina DeNunzio; Miss Oxford, Ella Roberts; Miss Clayand, Caitlin Seifert; Miss Greater Columbus, Stephanie Finotil and Miss Lake Erie, Jaeleen Davis.

The evening was emceed by outgoing Miss Ohio 2022 Elizabetta Nies and Miss Ohio 1989 Sarah Evans Tackett.

The Life & Culture section is brought to you by Knox Community Hospital.

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