Cierra Jackson's yearlong reign as Miss Columbus has come to an end.
She will relinquish her crown tonight at the 2016 Miss Columbus Scholarship Pageant, which will be held at 7 p.m. at Brookstone School.
But for Jackson, it will only be a formality. Earlier this week, she moved to Washington to start a new career. Jackson was one of seven people selected for a Running Star/Walmart Star Fellows program that exposes young women to the world of politics. She will be working for U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a congresswoman from Hawaii, until December.
Jackson, 23, said she applied for the program in the months leading up to the Miss Georgia Pageant. She will live free of charge with other Star fellows in a house on Capitol Hill, according to the program's website, and receive a living stipend for the semester.
"I was selected into the program, but I did not know if I would have been able to go if I won Miss Georgia," she said. "When I did not win Miss Georgia, I didn't have all my eggs in one basket and had something to fall back on."
Jackson, who grew up a military brat in Columbus, said she's excited about working for Gabbard.
"She's a congresswoman and also a veteran, which I think goes hand-in-hand with what my platform issue has been throughout my years as Miss Columbus," she said. "I
created the Day of the Military Child in both the city of Columbus and the state of Georgia with the help of Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, Sen. Ed Harbison and Councilman Bruce Huff."
Jackson also recently authored a children's book titled "CC: The Military Kid." It will be published by B.O.S.S. Publishing this fall and is now available for pre-order at www.cierrajackson.com/cc-the-military-kid.html, she said.
Jackson, a native of Bowling Green, Ky., moved to Columbus when she was 8 years old. She went to Britt David Elementary and Blackmon Road Middle and graduated from Columbus High in 2010. Her mother is a dentist and her father is in the military. As an only child, she found her father's frequent deployments left a void in her life, Jackson said in an earlier Ledger-Enquirer interview.
She said the book chronicles her life as a military child from childhood through Sept. 11 and then college, and the obstacles she was able to overcome.
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 in June, sporting her natural curly hair.
Though she lost the state pageant, she received a non-finalist talent award for her rendition of "Alabaster Box," she said. She also raised the third largest amount of donations for the Children's Miracle Network.
Now Jackson is looking toward the possibility of a life in politics. In addition to the fellowship, she also recently participated in a program at "The Women's Campaign School" at Yale University.
Jackson said she wants to run for office someday and believes working in Washington will broaden her horizons.
"It's only a couple of months, but my hope is to find other opportunities," she said. "I also want to intern or work at the White House."
Alva James-Johnson, 706-571-8521. Reach her on Facebook at AlvaJamesJohnsonLedger.