Heads turned as Cara Mund entered the Fort Meade USO Center.
Wearing her tiara, Mund walked over to the large USO placard as she was introduced. Crowned Miss America 2018, Mund smiled as service members came over to greet her and take selfies.
“She seems very sincere and humble,” said Navy Information Technician Portia Gerald of Cyber Defense Activity. “You don’t get to see a lot of humble superstars these days. So when you meet one, she stands out.”
Mund, who hails from Bismarck, N.D., visited Fort Meade’s USO on Jan. 24.
This was her second visit to the installation. In October, Mund toured the Baltimore Military Entrance Processing Station and witnessed a swearing-in and shipping-out ceremony for new military recruits.
“It’s an honor to be here,” said Mund, 24, after her visit at the USO. “It’s a beautiful base. I hear that it keeps on growing, so that’s exciting.”
Shawn Sabia, manager of center operations at the USO, said the Miss America organization is “a great partner” with USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore.
“Every time there’s a new Miss America, she does the rounds with us to thank our service members for what they do.”
Sabia said the USO appreciates the partnership.
“I’m just happy that [Mund] is here,” he said. “She’s a very pleasant person and has a heart of gratitude.”
In addition to meeting Mund, the service members enjoyed a catered lunch of pizza, salad, beverages and cookies provided by CACI, a professional services and information technology company based in Arlington, Va., and a sponsor of the USO.
Mund was crowned Miss America on Sept. 10, 2017 in Atlantic City. She is the first Miss America from North Dakota.
An honor graduate of Brown University, Mund majored in business, entrepreneurship and organizations. She was the president of the university’s Kappa Delta sorority.
Mund has been accepted to Notre Dame Law School and aspires to become the first female governor of North Dakota.
Near the end of the visit, Garrison Commander Col. Tom Rickard and Command Sgt. Maj. Brian S. Cullen welcomed Mund to Fort Meade.
The colonel said it is good to have visitors like Miss America come to Fort Meade to learn about the important work that service members are doing for the country.
Navy Cryptologic Technician (Collection) Elizabeth Hessling of the Crytologic Warfare Group 6 sat with Mund and a group of service members at a table and asked Mund how long she has competed in pageants.
Mund said she started competing at age 5, but never thought she would be crowned Miss America.
“It was an awesome experience,” Hessling said of the visit. “She’s very sweet and genuine.”
Mund called the service members “genuine” and “hardworking.”
“You can see their love for the nation,” she said.