Miss New Jersey Takes on Campus Assault
Rutgers student Cierra Kaler-Jones never thought she’d talk about the sexual attack she endured her freshman year—least of all in the middle of the Miss America pageant.
Illustration by Marianna Madriz
Cierra Kaler-Jones stands outside her home in New Brunswick, New Jersey, wearing a dark blue button-down dress shirt, denim jeans and brown boots — a casual yet sophisticated look that complements her personality well. Kaler-Jones is the reigning Miss New Jersey but often seems like any other twenty-one-year-old college student — studying for the GRE while chatting about her boyfriend and her future dreams.
On her right-hand, Kaler-Jones wears a sparkly ring in the shape of a crown, a symbol of the crowning moment when she was named Miss New Jersey 2014, on her fourth and final try for the title. She is a tiny figure with a curly mane and a megawatt smile that makes it easy to see why she won the title. However, Kaler-Jones does not feel she resembles a typical beauty queen. “I have a big, curly Afro puff and I refuse to straighten it at this point,” she says.