Nia Franklin on how she plans to change image of Miss America

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Nia Franklin says life has changed dramatically in the days after being crowned Miss America.

"They've been really been surreal. I've been on such a high and incredibly grateful for the experience," Franklin said.

The 25-year-old is now traveling the country in an era of no swimsuit competition, as the organization also tries to rebrand itself.

"I think it just starts with me," said Franklin when asked about how she plans to change the image of Miss America. "I want young girls to know you don't have to fit a mold anymore. It's really just about what you can offer the program. Everyone's different. It's not just about what you look like, and I think we need to embrace diversity more than ever, and that's how I plan to change the image."

In her final interview on the Miss America broadcast, the young artist with a master's degree in music composition, was asked how being the candidate from New York prepared her for the job of Miss America.

Franklin quickly answered, "I have New York grit."

She also dazzled the audience with her opera performance and is focused on fighting for more arts education funding in American schools.

"There's a 20 percent higher graduation rate at schools where music and the arts are part of the curriculum," Franklin said. "So I plan in March on going to D.C. and lobbying with the groups that support arts education in this country."

Franklin also brought her new Miss America crown with her to the Eyewitness newsroom. Others can hold the crown, but only Miss America can wear it.

She doesn't plan on wearing it to every event though.

"I think with us getting more and more modern, I will still wear it of course to certain things, like a school, definitely, because the little kids want to see that," Franklin said. "But, I think it's more important that people see you during your year, and not just the crown, because that's what gets us away from stereotypes."
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