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Mrs. N.J. makes music matter
Geralyn Choltco Watson
Probably every dad thinks his daughter is beautiful and talented, but in Geralyn ’94 Choltco Watson’s case, some well-placed fatherly pride helped put her on her way to the Mrs. America Pageant in Honolulu in September. Watson, Mrs. New Jersey America 2003, is the first woman from the state to make it to the final five since 1979. She claimed third runner up and “put New Jersey back on the map.”

Watson earned a music education degree from Rowan and was a member of the Choral Union and Concert Choir. A piano teacher for years, she also modeled and taught music. Success as a model led to teaching at her agency and gave her opportunities to act. She excelled in competition, winning several awards in New York. “My father, seeing how well I did, saw an ad in the newspaper about the Mrs. New Jersey America pageant and thought that I should give it a try,” she recalls. “ After checking into it, I decided to enter.”

The Mantua resident now teaches private piano lessons and has 40 students ranging from age four to 77. “It’s never too late to learn music,” says Watson, who has played since she was five. “I started out not playing seriously because I wanted to be an Olympic ice skater. Then I broke my ankle and became dedicated to piano my freshman year of high school.”

Watson continues to express her love for music through her Mrs. New Jersey duties. Gracefully battling budget cuts in education and the perception that music is optional in schools, Watson’s platform is the preservation of music education. “Music is more than just learning a song,” she says. “It develops motor skills, self-esteem, cognitive skills, discipline and just makes for a well-rounded individual.”

To promote music education Watson has spoken at the concerts of American Idol’s Justin Guarini, teen sensation Aaron Carter and the 60’s band The Duprees. Her acting skill has led to appearances on Lifetime, Fox and the History Channel. “Modeling and acting started out as a hobby and turned into something that I thoroughly enjoy,” she said. “That led me to the pageant world and ironically, the pageant has brought everything back full circle to music.”

Traveling with Mrs. New Jersey frequently is “Mr. New Jersey,” Watson’s husband, Chuck. Watson said, “My life was fine before marriage, but having my husband makes it great!” The couple is devoted to rescuing neglected or abused animals and nursing them back to health.

As Mrs. New Jersey, Watson hopes to continue doing what she loves the most—helping people and promoting the importance of music education. “I want to keep teaching and reaching as many people as I can with music.”

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