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Cierra Kaler-Jones, crowned Miss New Jersey 2014 in Ocean City, NJ

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Ocean City, Saturday night, June 14, 2014 ushered in a new Miss New Jersey at the Music Pier in Ocean City, New Jersey.

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Cierra Kaler-Jones, Miss Coastal Shore, age 21 from Galloway Township, New Jersey stood on stage shaking as she heard her name called as the winner of the title Miss New Jersey, 2014, while hugging the 1st runner-up tightly. She stood on stage, mouth wide open in a look of disbelief.

As in most pageants, it is not just one factor that determines the winner. All twenty-four contestants, including Kaler-Jones arrived in Ocean City on Monday and spent five days in rehearsal, having some fun on the beach and preparing themselves for the pageant where they were judged by a six member panel who evaluated them based on a personal interview, swimsuit, talent and lifestyle .

Stooping down at center stage so that out going Miss New Jersey 2013, Cara McCollum could place the newly won crown on her head, Kaler-Jones still appeared to be in shock. With the crown in place, the sash draped across her body and holding her large bouquet of roses, Kaler-Jones took her first walk down the runway as Miss New Jersey 2014.

Kaler-Jones, a graduate of Absegami High School is a senior at Rutgers University. Winning the title, provides her with an opportunity to compete in the Miss America Competition in September in Atlantic City as well as winning a $12,000 college scholarship.

Kaler-Jones platform, Empowering Today’s Youth Through Arts Education. When she’s not studying, she stays active with her platform and now has taken on the mantle of Miss New Jersey 2014.

This was Kaler-Jones fourth attempt to become Miss New Jersey. She said that people had told her, “You will never win this because you don’t have the look,” which confirms it is more than looks and that you must be a well rounded contestant to be a Miss New Jersey.

Walking the runway is not the end of the night, but just the beginning of a year of memories which starts early the next morning with a meeting with the press and a jump and kick in the Atlantic Ocean off the beach in Ocean City, New Jersey.

As a part of winning the crown, new and unexpected changes such as posing with eager fans, of all ages, now begins. As she arrived on the boardwalk to meet the press and do the traditional water kick, she becomes surrounded by fans and well wishers.

She is also only the second African-American woman to be crowned Miss New Jersey. The last was Miss New Jersey 1983 Suzette Charles. Charles went on to become Miss America when she replaced Vanessa Williams.

Ciera Kaler-Jones has her path ahead of her. One that has been walked by many, but Kaler-Jones has sent her sights high.

She has selected Miss America 2003 Erika Harold, an attorney and Republican politician from Illinois as her role model. Harol is someone whom Kaler-Jones has admired for her passion and her academic achievements.

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