Beauty in eyes of beholder

Staff Writer

 Jacqueline Giancola Jacqueline Giancola EAST BRUNSWICK — Beauty doesn’t always come in the form of tiaras and dresses, as Jacqueline Giancola has figured out.

Real beauty, she realized, presented itself to her while visiting the Bristol Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick.

“I was speaking with this little girl, and I said, ‘You’re so pretty,’ and she started crying,” Giancola said. “She said that nobody calls her pretty and she gets made fun of at school. … Kids can be mean sometimes, and she did not deserve any of that.”

Helping others find confidence in themselves is what’s most important to Giancola, 17, as she works toward building empowerment and a positive outlook throughout her community and hometown of East Brunswick.

“I really could tell that my words were getting through to her,” Giancola said as she reflected on her visit with the young girl. “I really felt that I did help her and make her feel better about herself.”

Giancola is fully aware of the stereotype that beauty pageant contestants are “superficial” and “materialistic.” As the winner of the Miss New Jersey Teen USA 2015 competition, her main focus is to use her status to bring strength to those around her.

“This is more than just getting dressed up all the time — this is about helping other people,” she said. “Not just for ourselves.”

Giancola has grown up volunteering at the Kloos Christmas Light Spectacular, an East Brunswick light show that raises money for different causes each year.

But this year, when the show raised money for injured Monroe Township High School hockey player Mikey Nichols, Giancola was able to use her new crown status to raise awareness of the cause through social media.

“I really tried to broadcast on social media about their event and promote their event,” Giancola said. “I put it on my Twitter and my Instagram and my Facebook, all the information, so everyone who sees my page can help.”

Giancola was present when the Kloos family presented Nichols with a check for more than $13,000 — the most the Kloos Christmas Light Spectacular had ever raised.

In addition to helping with the light show and visiting local hospitals, Giancola is a participant in the local Buddy Ball program, helping children with special needs play the sport.

A senior at East Brunswick High School, Giancola said she loves her hometown and “all the people in it.” She is captain of her school’s cheerleading and golf teams, and plans to study acting in college.

Giancola also spoke of the importance of young people being involved with their community.

“People don’t understand about community service — they’re like, ‘Oh, there’s people who are doing community service, they already have that covered,’ ” Giancola said.

“No, it’s people like you that do it. So, if you don’t do it, how do you expect anyone else to do it? I think that everyone really needs to chip in and realize that they are part of the community. They are those people that are out there helping.”

Before she graduates, Giancola said she wants to help raise money for low-income families. She also wants to continue visiting children in hospitals, and help girls who may not think they are pretty realize that there is “beauty in everybody.”

“We have a totally different perception of ourselves than other people have,” Giancola said. “Beauty does shine through your personality.”

To follow Giancola in the months leading up to the Miss Teen USA competition, visit