ORONO, Maine (WABI) - Trenton native Marina Gray is ditching her combat boots and uniform for a tiara, recently winning the title of Miss Maine USA 2018.
The Army Sergeant is redefining what it means to be a beauty queen.
We caught up with her just days after her win.
"I've worked in the restaurant industry," said Gray. "I'm a fisherman's daughter. I went to the University of Maine. Served for the Army National Guard. Now, I get the opportunity to represent our state at the Miss USA pageant."
At the age of 22, Marina Gray is preparing for the biggest adventure yet: serving the Pine Tree State as Miss Maine USA 2018.
"It's an opportunity to show people how beautiful they can be on the inside and how powerful that can be," she said.
You'd never know from her confident demeanor and the dazzling crown and sash that her life was anything but charmed.
"When I was 16 years old, I legally emancipated myself," she explained.
"Growing up in a low income family, it's really hard to see success for your future. I was sleeping couch to couch."
Gray said she refused to be a product of her environment. Instead, throwing herself into her studies and becoming class president at Ellsworth High before transferring to Brewer where she graduated a year early.
"I know what it's like to feel extremely lost in life and it's so important to be a role model to others, when you get to that level of feeling successful and feeling good about yourself, and reaching out to other people and pulling them out of, you know, that mentality or situation," Gray said.
Her resume is impressive. Gray is an Army National Guard Sergeant in the 133rd Engineer Battalion in Brunswick, a Petroleum Supply Specialist and also the Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year at her unit.
"Being a woman in the military is an extremely special thing," Gray said. "You learn to see the world in a different way. My world wasn't about being beautiful. My world was about being a strong person who could handle being in a combat."
Gray is taking charge of her newfound platform through her service to others.. Inspiring young girls to take a walk in her boots, or heels and fight for their dreams.
"You know some people might have stigmas about pageantry, but I guess I'm here to break them."
Gray graduated from UMaine last December with a degree in Interpersonal Communications.
She'll represent Maine at the Miss USA Pageant next summer.