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Sep 15, 2014 03:46 AM EDT

Miss America 2015: Kira Kazantsev Plans To Use Prize Money to Attend Law School

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Kira Kazantsev, the winner of Miss America 2015 Pageant, plans to use $50,000 prize money to pay for her law school at the the University of Notre Dame.

Kazantsev plans to attend law school and pursue career in women's issues and international diplomacy. She recently revealed her ordeal as a victim of domestic violence in college. Her former boyfriend used to stalk and send hateful text messages to her.

"We need to talk about the issue," Kazantsev said. "We need to make it something people aren't scared of. We need to stop asking, 'Why doesn't she just leave?' but instead have the courage and empathy to help women on their way," New York Post reports.

The 22-year-old daughter of Russian immigrants triple majored in Political Science, Global Studies, and Geography from the Hofstra University Honors College. Currently, Kazantsevvolunteers with domestic-violence group Safe Horizon and speaks at shelters.

The pageant held at Boardwalk Hall saw a Miss New York taking the crown for the third consecutive time. Both Miss America 2014 (Nina Davuluri) and Miss America 2013 (Mallory Hagan) were crowned as Miss New York.

Kazantsev said that if you can prove your mettle in New York, it is a walk in the park elsewhere, especially at Miss America.

"The thing about New York, especially being Miss New York, is that you have to make it," Kazantsev said. "You have to bust your little tushy to get to where you want to go, and that creates somebody that's very independent, very self-serving - or, not self-serving ... um - very able to ... to do things on their own," NJ reports.

Kazantsev wooed the judges by bringing a twist to her pageant talent. Going against the norm, she sat cross-legged on the floor and sang Pharrell's "Happy", by using a single red cup to tap in rhythm with the song.

Judges were further impressed by her pageant platform, "Love Shouldn't Hurt: Protecting Women Against Domestic Violence", which is inspired by personal experience.

"I think a lot of us started to fall in love with her during the very first interview," said one of the judges and "Desperate Housewives" creator, Marc Cherry.

First runner-up was Courtney Garrett (Miss Virginia); second runner-up was Ashton Campbell (Miss Arkansas); third runner-up was Victoria Cowen (Miss Florida) and fourth runner-up was Lauren Kuhn (Miss Massachusetts).

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