Kira Kazantsev dreams of being the third consecutive Miss New York to be crowned Miss America. Credit: Getty Kira Kazantsev dreams of being the third consecutive Miss New York to be crowned Miss America.
Credit: Getty

Pageant watchers across the country will be tuning in to the Miss America pageant Sunday night to see who will succeed New York's own Nina Davuluri as the next Miss America. One of the most closely watched contestants will be 22-year-old ManhattaniteKira Kazantsev, who was crowned Miss New York in May after besting 20 other contestants.

Want to know more about the contestant many fans think will take home the crown? We've compiled the 5 things you need to know.

She's heading to law school after her pageant days are over.

A graduate of Long Island's Hofstra University, the 23-year-old Kazantsev has already been accepted to Fordham University's Law School. It doesn't seem like she has any reason to worry about juggling her workload - while she was an undergrad she triple-majored inPolitical Science, Global Studies, and Geography.

She is a passionate advocate for domestic violence victims.

Kazantsev says she chose to build her platform on raising awareness of domestic violence because she was in an abusive relationship in college. "You just feel alone. You feel helpless,"Kazantsevtold NPR. She told the network that at the time, she was unaware that their were resources for women who were victims of abuse.

"I want people to stop asking 'Why doesn't she just leave?'" she continued. "Every woman is an expert in her own case, and there are so many extenuating circumstances that lead to a woman staying with her abuser." She has officially titled her platform "Love Shouldn't Hurt: Protecting Women Against Domestic Violence."


Several other contestants have also picked domestic violence as their cause - includingMiss West Virginia and Miss Delaware.(On a related note: we wonder if any contestants tonight will receive a question on the Ray Rice situation.)

She's trilingual.

The daughter of Russian immigrants, Kazantsev speaks fluent Russian and has also studied Spanish. She told Brooklyn Daily earlier this year that she especially loved exploring the borough's Russian-speaking neighborhoods. "Over the five years that I have lived here, I’ve spent a lot of time in Brooklyn, and I always enjoy spending time in the Russian-speaking community. It’s like a home away from home, as my family is back in California," she says.

A recent trip to Russia, Kazantsev told the Press of Atlantic City, made her think more about her parents decision to move to the United States."It made me just appreciate the fact I am an American," she said.

She's a singer.

During the pageant tonight, Kazantsev plans to perform Pharrell's ubiquitous hit "Happy."

Psst... she grew up in California.

Kazantsev is a relatively new transplant to the Empire State, only having moved here 5 years ago for college.

Follow Lakshmi Gandhi on Twitter @LakshmiGandhi.

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