Posted: September 03, 2018
By Michelle Ewing, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. —
Miss New York Nia Imani Franklin was crowned the winner of this year's Miss America competition Sunday night in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Here's what we know about the 25-year-old, who claimed a $50,000 scholarship with her win:
1. The classically trained singer, songwriter and composer wrote her first song at age 6. According to the Miss America website, the lyrics were, "Love, love, love, love, love, is the only thing that matters to me, hey, hey, hey, hey."
Her passion for music continued to flourish through the years.
"I grew up in a school with only 5 percent minority, but growing up, I found my love of arts, and through music, I felt positive about myself and who I was," Franklin said during the competition, according to E! News. "That's what I would encourage young girls to do: Find who you are."
For the talent portion of the pageant, Franklin performed the aria "Quand m'en vo'" from "La Boheme."
2. She earned a master's degree in composition from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts last year, according to college's website. The Winston-Salem native, who also was awarded a Kenan Fellowship at Lincoln Center Education in New York, previously earned a bachelor's degree in music composition from East Carolina University.
3. Her social impact initiative is "advocating for the arts." "For the Miss America Organization, I will bring my zeal for music and performance, and be a strong support for arts in education," she said in her bio on the Miss America website.
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I spent my morning with pretty much the cutest children you can spend your morning with - babies and toddlers! About a month ago, Lincoln Center Education invited me to lead an engagement activity for kids aged 0-24 months along with their parents. We sang nursery rhymes, colored, played piano and ukuleles, and ate applesauce 😂 👶 💕🎤🥁🎹🎻 I think they had a lot of fun, I know I did! #musicforlife #adorablehumans
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4. She also plans to raise awareness for cancer research. Franklin even donated her stem cells to her father, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and "essentially saved his life," the University of North Carolina School of the Arts reported.
5. She's the first winner of what organizers have dubbed "Miss America 2.0," which replaced the swimsuit competition with onstage interviews. Franklin praised the move while speaking with reporters Sunday night.
“These changes, I think, will be great for our organization," she said, according to the AP. "I’ve already seen so many young women reaching out to me personally as Miss New York asking how they can get involved because I think they feel more empowered that they don’t have to do things such as walk in a swimsuit for a scholarship."
She added: “And I’m happy that I didn’t have to do so to win this title tonight because I’m more than just that, and all these women onstage are more than just that.”
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Noah K. Murray/AP
Noah K. Murray/AP
Miss New York Nia Imani Franklin was named Miss America 2019 at the annual competition Sept. 9, 2018, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Nia Franklin beat a field of 51 contestants to win the 98th Miss America pageant, claiming the crown and a $50,000 scholarship.
This year marked the first without a swimsuit competition. It was replaced with onstage interviews.
Franklin praised the move in an interview after her win.
“These changes, I think, will be great for our organization,” she said. “I’ve already seen so many young women reaching out to me personally as Miss New York asking how they can get involved because I think they feel more empowered that they don’t have to do things such as walk in a swimsuit for a scholarship.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
The winner of the Miss America 2019 competition wasn't the only contestant to make headlines Sunday night.
Hours before Miss New York Nia Franklin was crowned, Miss Michigan Emily Sioma stunned the audience by using her introduction to share some not-so-subtle criticism for officials' response to Flint's water crisis.
"From the state with 84 percent of the U.S.'s fresh water but none for its residents to drink, I am Miss Michigan Emily Sioma," she said onstage.
Many Twitter users praised Sioma for her remark.
Much to the dismay of her new fans, Sioma, who graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in women's studies, was not among the top 15 finalists.
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