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Before Cordelia Cranshaw became Miss District of Columbia USA, she flashed her winning smile to the judges. But smiling didn’t always come easy — she grew up in foster care and was once homeless.

The D.C. pageant winner is a social worker who helps children facing some of the same challenges she did.

“Just looking back at all the things that I was able to overcome, I’m just thrilled that I am where I am today,” she said.

Years ahead of the big contest, Cranshaw worked on developing the confidence to compete.

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Article Credit: Barbara Harrison, NBC4

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