"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.
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."
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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.”
What You Need to Know - The Miss America Pageant