Miss New Jersey campaigns for healthy eating

Classically trained singer busy with appearances until Miss America Pageant BY JANE MEGGITT Staff Writer

Here she comes … Miss New Jersey, who is hoping to win the Miss America crown in January in Las Vegas.

ERIC SUCAR staff Miss New Jersey Ashley Shaffer, 22, a resident of Millstone Township, will compete in the Miss America Pageant on Jan. 30 in Las Vegas. ERIC SUCAR staff Miss New Jersey Ashley Shaffer, 22, a resident of Millstone Township, will compete in the Miss America Pageant on Jan. 30 in Las Vegas. The 2009 Miss New Jersey is 23-yearold township resident Ashley Shaffer. Her parents, Kathy and Bernie Shaffer, are thrilled with Ashley’s victory on June 20 at the Ocean City Music Pier. Her mom noted that at the preliminaries, her daughter won the Miss Photogenic and swimsuit/evening gown competition.

Shaffer has lived in Millstone for 13 years, when her family moved from Woodbridge. She graduated from Allentown High School in 2004, and from Marist College, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in 2008 with a degree in communications. Prior to winning the Miss New Jersey title, Shaffer worked as a freelancer for CBS College Sports in New York City and for the Major League Baseball Network as an associate producer in promotions. Now being Miss Jersey is a full-time job, filled with speaking engagements and appearances at public events.

She has shifted her career goal and now would prefer to work in sports broadcasting than in news. Shaffer also hopes to attend law school because it will give her more versatility in the workplace.

Her platform for the Miss America pageant is health and fitness. When she started competing for the Miss New Jersey crown several years ago, she was 40 pounds heavier than her current weight of 125 pounds on her 5-foot-5 frame.

“I learned to eat healthy, eating the right amount and portion,” she said.

While she has always been active, she incorporated proper eating habits into her lifestyle.

“So many girls think that crash dieting is the answer. Don’t do it,” she advised.

Shaffer lost the 40 pounds over the course of four years. She was in the Top 10 for Miss New Jersey last year but had lost 15 pounds by the time of this year’s pageant. Her main demographic for her health and fitness platform is children and adolescents, because that is when they are learning to make choices about healthy eating, she said. Her platform is titled “A Healthy Weight to Feel Great.”

For the talent portion of the Miss America pageant, the operatically trained Shaffer will sing “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s “Turandot.” She has been singing for over 10 years, and has been classically trained for five years.

Shaffer has been a Miss America fan “since I could walk and talk.” She said she always admired the contestants for their intelligence and passion for their platforms. “They are college-educated, successful academically and in community service,” she said. Her one disappointment about the pageant is that it is no longer held in Atlantic City.

So far, Shaffer has appeared in the Philadelphia Fourth of July parade and promoted the Jersey Shore Store in New York City. She is scheduled to appear in the Night in Venice parade in Ocean City and at a Ruth Newman Shapiro Cancer and Heart Fund showcase-house event in Ventnor. Next month, she heads to Orlando, Fla., to support the Miss New Jersey Outstanding Teen in national competition. In the fall, Shaffer will travel around the state visiting schools. She is part of the R.J. Reynolds Right Decision Right Now campaign to discourage students from smoking, which is geared for grades five to nine.

Locally, she hopes to host a golf tournament at the Cream Ridge Golf Club for the Children’s Miracle Network and may appear at Millstone Day in September if her schedule allows.

Shaffer is looking for sponsors for her journey to the Miss America pageant. She will need cocktail dresses, gowns and outfits for appearances. Contributions are taxdeductible because the Miss America Organization is a nonprofit, she said.

For more information, visit www.missnewjersey. net.