ATLANTIC CITY — Miss America Nia Franklin stood before nearly 700 students Wednesday morning in the city where she was crowned just over a month ago.

She gave the Richmond Avenue School students her best Miss America advice: Be the best you can be, and ignite your passions.

“Don’t feel like you have to be the one that is just the average student in the group,” Franklin, 25, said during the assembly. “You can be more than that. But you have to believe in yourself, and you have to be confident that you are.”

Franklin, who competed in Miss America 2019 as Miss New York in September in Atlantic City, was the first winner crowned in the era of the Miss America 2.0 rebranding without the swimsuit competition.

She returned to the city Wednesday to speak to students in grades pre-K to 8, in three separate assemblies. She took photos, answered questions and sang to the students. The younger students donned crowns and handmade sashes just like hers.

She mentioned the importance of doing homework, caring about school and passions and “making good choices.” When she was in middle school, she wasn’t always the most confident, but she gained confidence while getting more involved with music and working hard to get into college, she said.

Franklin, who lives in Brooklyn, New York, is also a singer and composer. Her platform is “Advocating for the Arts.” She studied music composition at East Carolina University and has a master’s degree in music composition from the North Carolina School of the Arts, and has composed more than 100 songs.

She sang “Wheels on the Bus” with some younger students she called up from the crowd and Mariah Carey’s “Hero” to the older, middle school students.

Franklin described to the children how she got involved with the Miss America Organization, noting she had to find a way to pay for school. She also was a stem cell donor for her father during his cancer treatment in 2013.

Franklin said she likes to visit schools and serve as an example and role model for them.

“I think it’s really important that they’re seeing somebody that is older than them, but still young enough to connect with them and let them know why it’s important to get your education and be motivated in school,” she said following her appearance. “It can be hard to be a kid.”

Principal Shelley Williams said the school welcomes Miss America every year and loves to have her talk to the students. MAO officials said school appearances in the city will continue to be a regular occurrence throughout the year.

“This is where I was crowned, and it will always be special to me because of that. It’s always nice to come back to the community,” Franklin said.

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