Cierra Jackson was crowned Miss Columbus in 2015, but she never fulfilled her dream of competing in the Miss America Pageant.
Now the 24-year-old woman, who moved to Washington after relinquishing her title, will finally get her wish.
On June 19, she was crowned Miss District of Columbia, which qualified her to represent the nation’s capital in the upcoming Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, N.J. The preliminary competition will be held Sept. 6-8, and the final competition on Sept. 11.
Jackson, who sports her natural hair, said she will be competing not just to win the pageant and promote her platform on behalf of military children, but also to encourage others to be their true and authentic selves.
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“I’ve had so many people tell me that I shouldn’t wear my hair naturally curly on stage, but there is a purpose behind that vision,” she said during a Ledger-Enquirer interview. “It’s to show people that you can still be successful, you can still be amazingly talented and still reach all of your goals. I think that’s a universal message that anyone can grab on to and hold on to in their lives.
“I’ve been so blessed that the Miss District of Columbia Board has been so open to allowing me to express myself in that way and embraced me choosing to present myself in an authentic way,” she added. “I know that it happened this way because God destined it to be this way.”
A native of Bowling Green, Ky., Jackson grew up in Columbus as a military brat. She attended Britt David Elementary School and Blackmon Road Middle School before graduating from Columbus High School in 2010.
Jackson began competing in the Miss America Pageant system while a student at Spelman College in Atlanta, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2014.
The first year, she was crowned Miss Brookhaven and qualified to compete in the Miss Georgia Pageant, where she placed among the top 12 contestants.
In 2013, Jackson was the first black woman crowned Miss Rome. Last year, she won the Miss Columbus Pageant and represented the city in the Miss Georgia Pageant with her natural hair.
Though she lost the state pageant, she received a non-finalist talent award for her rendition of “Alabaster Box.” She also raised the third largest amount of donations for the Children’s Miracle Network.
After relinquishing her Miss Columbus crown, she moved to Washington as a fellow with the Running Start/Walmart Star Fellows program that exposes young women to the world of politics. Four months later, she was selected for a White House internship, which she completed in May.
Jackson also recently authored a children’s book titled “CC: The Military Kid.”
It’s been a long journey, she said, but she’s glad her desire to compete in the Miss America Pageant finally becoming a reality.
“I competed for the Miss Georgia Pageant five times. I went to Miss Georgia three times,” Jackson said Wednesday. “I placed in the top 12 once, and also got some awards along the way.”
“But being able to actually win District of Columbia in my sixth year, which was also my last year of eligibility, was a sign to me that it’s extremely important to continue to be persevering,” she said. “ I could have given up many times. But I knew that it was something that I wanted to do, so I made sure that I continuously went for it.”
To vote for contestants in the Miss America “People Choice” contest, go to http://missamerica.org/vote/