Kaler-Jones: winner in all ways but one

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Cierra Kaler-Jones performs her self-choreographed lyrical dance to “Listen.”

GALLOWAY – She doesn’t sound at all like a loser.

"Although I'm not coming home with the crown, I'm coming back with a newfound self-confidence, lifelong friendships, a top 10 finish and talent prelim win, which is more than I ever could ask for," Cierra Kaler-Jones posted on Facebook after not winning the Miss New Jersey title in her second consecutive try Saturday, June 16.

"Thank you to everyone who supported my endeavors because you gave me the strength and willpower to compete this week," she went on. "Congratulations to my Atlantic County sister Lindsey Petrosh, Miss N.J. 2012. The most important lesson I've learned through this experience has been, ‘We lose ourselves in the things we love. We find ourselves there too.’"

Kaler-Jones told The Current Tuesday, June 19 that competing for a second time was both comforting and stressful.

"You go into the pageant with the mindset of wanting to improve from your performance the year before, but you also know exactly what to expect and what is expected of you," she said. "I expected a lot more of myself this time simply because I already got my feet wet and spent the year working on my weaknesses. This time around I had a lot more fun because I was comfortable in the setting and knew a lot of the girls who have grown to become some of my best friends."

The Absegami High School graduate and pre-law student at Rutgers University said her immediate plan is to throw her hat right back into the ring and compete in another local competition to qualify for the Miss New Jersey 2013 pageant.

"I’m focusing a lot on my platform which is ‘Empowering Today's Youth through Arts Education,’ and community service throughout the summer."

For the past two years, Kaler-Jones has organized free arts classes for area youngsters at Poetic Kinetic in Galloway.

"Right now I work through the Girl Scouts of Central and Southern New Jersey as part of their outreach program and facilitate weekly arts empowerment workshops in disadvantaged and at-risk neighborhoods," Kaler-Jones said. "With the help and partnership with South Jersey-based non-profit UNITY- Uniting Our Neighborhoods and Investing Time in our Youth, I will speak at many upcoming events dealing with issues facing society today and how the arts and education can be the gateway to more productive communities."

She said she’s getting numerous phone calls and e-mails from churches and other groups and organizations, asking her to be a guest speaker at events and host summer programs. "I’m constantly on the go, planning new events, and brainstorming ways to further advocate the arts and education," Kaler-Jones said. "With or without the crown, I knew life wouldn't stop for me, and I am so blessed to have exciting opportunities coming my way."

Kaler-Jones, a former Miss Teen Galloway, was in this year’s Miss New Jersey Pageant as Miss Northern Lakes. She competed last year as Miss Atlantic County.

She has ties to the Miss New Jersey winner who will compete in the Miss America Pageant.

"I am incredibly happy for Lindsey Petrosh, Miss New Jersey 2012," Kaler-Jones said. "She crowned me as Miss Atlantic County 2011 and in turn I crowned her Miss Atlantic County 2012. Our state is truly in good hands because Lindsey is a genuine and down-to-earth representative. I can't wait to see what she accomplishes during her year of service."

After winning the preliminary talent award for the second year in a row, Cierra Kaler-Jones holds hands with Anna Negron of Vineland, Miss Coastal Shore – now one of her best friends.


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