Living with anxiety, depression, and undiagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder was hard enough, but when her 5-year-old sister drowned after falling off a dock in 2015, Maura Spence-Carroll was devastated.
“It was the first time I experienced a monumental loss. It changes you, ”he said. “I was more depressed than I had ever been in my life because I was already living with a chemical imbalance that led me to be lethargic and sad all the time. Now I needed to accept the fact that my sister was gone, that person who thought she would go through life with me forever. “
Spc. Maura Spence-Carroll, 21, competes for Miss Colorado. She won the Miss Fort Carson title last February. (Chancey Bush / The Gazette)
Life became even more difficult the following year when his grandfather and veteran Bob Boyett died. Boyett enlisted in the Air Force in the 1960s, working in military intelligence at NORAD in Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs before being hired by the CIA.
“She was very proud to serve her country well,” said Spence-Carroll, who is stationed at Fort Carson and who this year was named Miss Fort Carson, during an interview with The Gazette. “It’s very important to me to continue his legacy, serve him well and make him proud.”
Spence-Carroll graduated from high school in 2017 in his hometown of Katy, Texas. He attended a semester at Houston Community College, but quickly realized that the cost and debt he would have to bear to obtain a degree were excessive. One day he was traveling home via Facebook when an army ad appeared. He spoke to a friend, a retired veteran who said he loved spending time in the military.
“I wanted to do something that would make people proud, that would be great, and that would give me life experience,” Spence-Carroll said.
He joined the Army in 2018 and the 21-year-old specialist is delighted to be based in Fort Carson, working as an intelligence analyst for the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
Although he loved his job, Spence-Carroll was still struggling.
“I felt like I was barely stepping on water, trying to keep up with everything,” he said.
Spc. Maura Spence-Carroll, 21, is dressed at Fort Carson Military Base south of Colorado Springs on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. Spence-Carroll joined the Army in 2018 and now competes for Miss Colorado . She won the Miss Fort Carson title last February. (Chancey Bush / The Gazette)
He asked for help and was diagnosed with ADHD last October.
“Because of the treatment and because I have a great support system, I’m thriving,” he said. “I’m very grateful to the suppliers I have and most importantly to the leadership I have because if it weren’t for them, I would still be struggling.”
With May as mental health month, Spence-Carroll would like all military personnel to receive mental health care to reduce the number of suicides.
“It is estimated that one million Colorado residents (approximately 20% of the population) live with a behavioral health condition and we know that the aggravated traumas of the last year have only worsened mental health,” said Governor Jared Polis when he signed a full-time bill on the Colorado Department of Human Services to establish the Behavioral Health Administration before July 2022.
“It’s important to destigmatize mental health care, especially in the military,” Spence-Carroll said. “It is very important because this is the first step that prevents members of the service from receiving attention. They feel that there will be a stigma, either socially, through their chain of command or professionally, and that should not exist ”.
“The problem is that the DOD is doing a lot of really good things … but we need to attack stigma from all levels. We need to make it clear that jokes that call people weak … are not good.”
Spence-Carroll struggled for years, constantly talking in classes and not paying attention before her mother withdrew her from the traditional eighth grade public school in favor of home schooling.
Spc. Maura Spence-Carroll, 21, of Katy, Texas, works as an intelligence analyst at Fort Carson. She will compete in the Miss Colorado pageant on June 8, 2021. (courtesy photo)
When Spence-Carroll was 5 years old, she saw the Miss America pageant for the first time. In fifth grade, her mother, Cidnie, singer of a Celtic rock band for many years, began teaching Spence-Carroll to sing classical music.
Spence-Carroll learned “Con te Partirò” from Andrea Bocelli and fell in love with it.
He has been competing in competitions for almost a decade and continues to receive help from his mother through Zoom, where they often discuss musicality, technique and phrasing.
Spence-Carroll will sing “Con te Partirò” as his talent on June 8 at Parker at the Miss Colorado pageant.
She won the Miss Fort Carson title in February after going through a competitive application process that the Miss Colorado Scholarship Organization uses to select representatives before the state pageant. She is excited to be the first or one of the first active-duty soldiers to win the Miss Colorado crown.
Spence-Carroll had COVID-19 and was in quarantine at her barracks, “sick as a dog,” when she learned she was selected to compete for Miss Colorado.
“I was just excited. I called my mother, friends and grandmother, ”he said.
The shows have been of great benefit to Spence-Carroll, who says she has been inclined to be a better public speaker, has gained confidence, has more security, and is willing to take bigger risks.
He loves the friends he makes at competitions and enjoys meeting people with a mentality and work ethic similar to his own.
“That’s another thing that people don’t realize about Miss Colorado, about Miss America, that there is so much work,” he said. of work a. I talk to boys from boys and girls clubs and YMCA. I raise funds and raise awareness and also work full time. I want people to understand that it’s a valuable hobby for you to grow. what you put in it. I wouldn’t have the growth I’ve had if it weren’t for the fact that I would be willing to work on it and willing to grow. “
“I’m going to put my heart into it and compete as best I can,” Spence-Carroll said. “If it’s not my day, it’s not my day. It’s okay, because I’ll deploy and compete again. If I am chosen as Miss Colorado, I will be delighted and represent Colorado to the best of my abilities and go to Miss America, to spend the time of my life and fulfill a lifelong dream. “