Miss New Jersey USA 2021
Celinda Ortega is a 26-year-old, first-generation Dominican American from Fair Lawn, New Jersey.
In 2016, Celinda graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies and a concentration in public relations from Montclair State University. She worked as a publicist in New York City for companies such as Ace Hardware, Laphroaig Single Malt Scotch, Corona Beer, and International SOS.
In 2018, Celinda was diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack healthy cells, tissue, and organs. It was later revealed that Celinda suffered a near-fatal lupus flare that caused damage to her kidneys, inflammation in multiple organs, and severe anemia. This disease turned Celinda’s personal and professional life upside down. However, she does not regret the challenges she has faced with her health since it has led her to her true calling—medicine.
Since getting diagnosed, health became Celinda’s number one priority, and she grew increasingly passionate about medicine and the science behind the immune system. She was especially inspired by her rheumatologist, Dr. Melinda Collins. After visiting numerous doctors and several years of unanswered questions, Dr. Collins was able to correctly diagnose Celinda and get her on the proper treatment plan within a week of seeing her. Celinda is grateful to her doctor for saving her life. Now, Celinda is motivated to become a doctor herself, so she could help others suffering from chronic illnesses the way her doctor has helped her.
Celinda is currently completing her second degree in biomedical science at Montclair State University. She plans to apply to medical schools next year. In the meantime, she is gaining clinical experience by volunteering at her local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, shadowing local physicians, and studying for the MCAT.
Aside from her passion for health and medicine, Celinda is also dedicated to empowering girls in her community. In 2013, Celinda and her mother founded Stellar Role Models, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating youth on the importance of confidence. Through Stellar Role Models, Celinda hosts various workshop series focused on girl empowerment and provides one-on-one mentorship. She is proud to have mentored over a hundred girls.
Celinda is honored to serve as Miss New Jersey USA 2021 and is excited to further her advocacy for lupus awareness, expand her girl empowerment workshops through Stellar Role Models, and inspire anyone dealing with a chronic illn
ess or similar challenge to never give up on their dreams.
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