Cara McCollum

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Cara McCollum
Cara McCollum.jpg
Born(1992-02-06)February 6, 1992
DiedFebruary 22, 2016(2016-02-22) (aged 24)
EducationPrinceton University,
(B.A. English, 2015)
Forrest City High School
TitleMiss New Jersey 2013
Miss Island Resort 2013
PredecessorLindsey Petrosh
SuccessorCierra Kaler-Jones

Cara McCollum (February 6, 1992 – February 22, 2016) was an American journalist and lead news anchor for SNJ Today[1] (which she joined in July 2015).[2][3] She was Miss New Jersey 2013 and competed for the Miss America 2014 title.

Background and education[edit]

The daughter of Rick and Maureen (née Buckingham) McCollum, both of Forrest City, Arkansas, McCollum attended Forrest City High School, where she was named valedictorian.[4] She was also named an Arkansas Times Academic All-Star in 2010.[4]

McCollum entered Princeton University in 2010[5] and was on the cheerleading squad during her freshman year.[6] She was a journalism student under John McPhee (in his “Creative Nonfiction” course), Evan Thomas, and Alma Guillermoprieto,[6] and was also a member of the sorority Kappa Alpha Theta and University Cottage Club.[7] McCollum received her B.A. in English (with a concentration in journalism) in June 2015, after taking time off to complete her year as Miss New Jersey (2013-2014).[8]

Miss New Jersey 2013[edit]

In early 2013, McCollum won the Miss Island Resort pageant, which allowed her to participate in the Miss New Jersey 2013 competition. In June 2013, she won the title of Miss New Jersey[5] with the platform, “Giving the Gift of Reading." This platform promoted youth literacy through her nonprofit organization “The Birthday Book Project," an organization which gives gift-wrapped books to underprivileged children grades K-5th for their birthdays.[9] Her talent was playing piano (despite a rare bone growth making one of her fingers immobile)[10] and she performed Calvin Jones’s rendition of “Whitewater Chopped Sticks."[11]

In September 2013, McCollum participated in the Miss America 2014 pageant as Miss New Jersey. For the “Show Us Your Shoes” parade along the Atlantic City Boardwalk, McCollum wore a mermaid costume with flippers and a net banner that read “Washed Ashore and Stronger than the Storm” to honor those affected by Hurricane Sandy.[12]

During her year-long reign as Miss New Jersey, McCollum was named New Jersey Library Association Champion of the Year,[13] as well as a Daily Points of Light Winner for her advocacy of youth literacy.[14] Tracey Hoover, CEO of Points of Light, also highlighted McCollum's non-profit, The Birthday Book Project, in an article that she wrote for The Huffington Post.[15]


On February 15, 2016, McCollum was involved in a car accident. She was taken to Cooper University Hospital in Camden, where she died on February 22, 2016.[16]


  1. ^ Staff (2016-02-22). "SNJ Today Mourns the Passing of Lead News Anchor Cara McCollum". SNJ Today. Archived from the original on 2016-02-23.
  2. ^ "SNJ Today Completes News Team". SNJ Today. 2015-07-14. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03.
  3. ^ "Former Miss New Jersey to anchor SNJ Today news broadcasts". Press of Atlantic City. Retrieved 2016-01-23.
  4. ^ a b Staff, Arkansas Times. "The 2010 Arkansas Times Academic All-Star Team". Arkansas Times. Retrieved 2016-01-23.
  5. ^ a b "Miss America 2014: A Miss New Jersey, by way of Arkansas". Retrieved 2016-01-23.
  6. ^ a b "The Princeton Packet, Princeton, Montgomery, Plainsboro, your source for local news, sports, entertainment and more". Archived from the original on 2016-03-01. Retrieved 2016-01-23.
  7. ^ "McCollum '14 is Miss New Jersey 2013 - The Daily Princetonian". Archived from the original on 2016-02-22. Retrieved 2016-01-23.
  8. ^ "Meet Cara McCollum: Princeton's pageant princess". The Tab Princeton. Retrieved 2016-01-23.
  9. ^ Staff, Arkansas Times. "The 2010 Arkansas Times Academic All-Star Team". Arkansas Times. Retrieved 2016-01-23.
  10. ^ "McCollum '14 wins Miss New Jersey crown". Princeton Alumni Weekly. Retrieved 2016-01-23.
  11. ^ "Miss New Jersey still pinching herself". Press of Atlantic City. Retrieved 2016-01-23.
  12. ^ "Show Us Your Shoes: Miss America dips toe in Atlantic City parade". Retrieved 2016-01-23.
  13. ^ "Cara McCollum, Miss New Jersey 2013". Archived from the original on 2016-02-08. Retrieved 2016-01-23.
  14. ^ "Cara McCollum". Points of Light. Retrieved 2016-01-23.
  15. ^ "Saluting Barbara Bush and the Points of Light Fighting to End Illiteracy". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-01-23.
  16. ^ Scott Stump (2016-02-22). "Former Miss New Jersey Cara McCollum, 24, dies from injuries suffered in car crash". Today.

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Lindsey Petrosh
Miss New Jersey
Succeeded by
Cierra Kaler-Jones