WEST ORANGE, NJ - Miss New Jersey, Cierra Kaler-Jones, visited seventh and eighth grade students at Liberty Middle School on December 8.

Kaler-Jones is the second African American to win the title of Miss Jersey, the first being Suzette Charles in 1983. Kaler-Jones also boasts a multicultural heritage including Native American, Irish, Filipino and German. Her passion for education was her pageant platform, entitled "Empowering Today’s Youth Through Arts Education." Kaler-Jones has said she competed in part because she was told that she "couldn't be Miss New Jersey because she didn't look a certain way or didn't fit a certain mold, " and she thought, why not?

A senior at Rutgers University, Kaler-Jones is majoring in Social Work, with a triple minor in Women's and Gender studies, Critical and Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies, and Criminology.  She plans to pursue a Joint Lawdegree with a Masters in Education Policy, with a career in Education Law and Policy.

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Kaler-Jones shared her pageant experiences with seventh and eighth grade girls, and provided encouragement and inspiration in the process. She discussed topics like being confident in your abilities; being an effective time manager; inspiring students to begin "resume building" in community service and school activities.

"Be authentic; be yourself," she encouraged the girls.