The winner and your new Miss America 2019 is… Nia Imani Franklin!
Crowned on September 9, 2018, the Winston-Salem, N.C.-born pageant queen represented New York in the 92nd annual pageant competition held in Atlantic City, N.J.
Franklin, a former ArtistCorps member, has been promoting this platform as her social impact initiative. The beauty pageant titleholder credited the power of music with helping her to find her identity. In a podcast interview with Academica Media, Franklin talks in-depth about her arts education advocacy, including her work with the Success Academy Charter Schools network.
“Working with [Success Academy] was my first time working in a charter school environment. And I really noticed the freedom the students had to express themselves,” said Franklin to host Ryan Kairalla on the “Charter School Superstars” podcast. “They really do their best to set up their students for success. It was a joy working for them.”
Success Academy’s mission is to redefine what’s possible in public education and Franklin credits Success Academy on working with students at every level.
In the interview, Franklin discussed how she had access to the arts throughout her educational career. As she looks back at her youth, she specifically remembers that in high school, her confidence in herself grew through music. “That was a place where I really shined and stood out. And I was a leader among my peers. And so, I know that from experience, children can really gain confidence and benefit from feeling like they have a special place where they are a leader and they can make a difference.”
After graduating high school, Franklin went on to receive her undergraduate degree in music composition from East Carolina University, and then went on to pursue her master’s in music composition from the University of North Carolina’s School of the Arts. “The more arts in the school, the better,” said Franklin.
The education roots run deep in Franklin—her mother currently works as a fourth grade teacher back in her hometown—and she continues to immerse herself in education as a teacher and music mentor as well as by speaking with students, school administrators, and teachers about the importance of saving arts education and why it is so vital to a well-rounded education.
“If I could snap my fingers and make any change to the education system, I would advocate, and I would want every single educator out in our world and in our community across America to genuinely love what they do and to genuinely support their children no matter what,” said Franklin.
Find out more about Franklin's education advocacy at missamerica.org.
Kelsey Nelson is the manager of campaigns and publications at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
Hear more exciting interviews with Charter School Superstars on Academica Media.