A native of Fair Lawn, Celinda Ortega was crowned Miss New Jersey USA on 1 August 2021 and represented New Jersey at the Miss USA 2021 pageant in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A first-generation Dominican American, Celinda later won the Miss Dominican Republic USA title.
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.
The on-stage moments, the tension of the final two and the glory of the crowning, here are Celinda’s state pageant photos.
Watch Celinda’s life change as she is crowned Miss New Jersey USA 2021. Her first runner-up Alexandra Lakhman won the 2022 title.
Lights, camera, action! Professional photoshoots are one of the perks that comes from winning a title.
Celinda was a semi-finalist in the 2018 and 2019 Miss New Jersey USA pageants.
All beautiful things must come to an end, no matter how bittersweet. See Celinda’s farewell walk and other candids from the weekend she crowned her successor Alexandra Lakhman as Miss New Jersey USA 2022.
Winning a state title is a sisterhood for life. Here are “after the crown” photos, including the Miss USA 2021 San Diego reunion.