The newly-crowned Miss Philadelphia, Nia Andrews, at The Logan after her victory on Feb. 25.
When Nia Andrews was nine, her sister, Bria, was born three months early. The baby had a 40 percent chance of survival, but beat the odds.
“She was a miracle. She was so strong,” said Andrews, the newly-crowned Miss Philadelphia.
Bria is now a teenager and thriving.
“She’s perfectly fine. She’s taller than me,” Andrews said with a laugh. “Miracles happen every day. To see her as a 13-year-old moving through life, it’s very beautiful and I’m so thankful that there were people at the hospital that could help her. She’s the greatest gift in my life. I would love for other people to have that feeling about their sibling.”
Andrews, born and raised in Philadelphia, has pledged to make premature birth awareness her platform throughout her year of service. She notes that Philadelphia has higher premature birth rates than other major cities in the state.
Andrews plans to collaborate with the March of Dimes Foundation in various capacities throughout the year, including participating in the March of Dimes walk in the city on April 30. She also hopes to host a charity concert with proceeds going toward March of Dimes.
“I will also be doing work with the Children’s Miracle Network hospitals,”Andrews said. “I will volunteer or visit the families to lift their spirits a little bit.”
The 22-year-old is not only dedicated to premature birth awareness as her Miss Philadelphia platform, she also has career aspirations to potentially work as a neonatal nurse practitioner or a nurse anesthetist. She graduated from West Chester University in December with a BS in biology and a minor in dance. She hopes to get into a fast-track BS to BSN program next year.
“The neonatal nurse practitioners really helped my sister. As for the anesthetist, I’ve had a lot of key women in my life who have that job and they say it’s very fascinating,” Andrews said.
Andrews is the 2015 Miss West Chester, the 2016 Miss Bucks County, and was third-runner-up at last year’s Miss Philadelphia pageant. She finished third at the Miss Pennsylvania pageant last year and will compete again for that title in June, with the hopes of qualifying for the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City.
Philly Happening recently caught up with Andrews in a phone interview to discuss her life since winning Miss Philadelphia, her rapid rise through the world of pageants, and the lessons she’s learned along the way.
P.H.: What has life been like since you were crowned?
Nia: Life has been a little hectic, but it’s been a lot of fun! My social media has been blowing up with messages from a lot of friends, old classmates, and neighbors. It’s been so nice to feel that positive energy. So far I’ve had a great experience and it’s so cool to represent my city that I was born and raised in.
P.H.: Tell us about the moment when they announced your name?
Nia: I was so shocked! I got The People’s Choice Award, so in my head I thought that meant I did not win. Then when I heard my name, I could not believe it! I was overwhelmed with emotion.
P.H.: What is your talent?
Nia: Dance! I perform a lyrical dance to “Beautiful,” by Christina Aguilera. I chose that song because it reminds the audience that you’re beautiful, we’re beautiful, we’re all beautiful. It has an inspirational message.
P.H.: I read that you are relatively new to pageants and got your start by winning the Miss West Chester University title in 2015. How did you get involved in that pageant and why did you decide to keep going?
Nia: I did the Miss West Chester pageant because I loved West Chester. I decided that I would love to represent a university that had helped me grow. After I won, I was told that the all Miss West Chester winners traditionally do The Miss Philadelphia pageant. I was strongly encouraged , so I thought ‘why not?’ Last year was my first Miss Philadelphia pageant and I got 3rd place. Then I won Miss Bucks County and got to go to the Miss Pennsylvania pageant. I was encouraged to try for Miss Philadelphia again this year for another chance to go to the Miss Pennsylvania pageant in June.
Nia in front of the Liberty Bell in the days following her crowning
P.H.: As somewhat of a pageant outsider, what has the pageant experience been like for you? What have you learned?
Nia: I’ve learned that it’s not all about what you see on the stage, it’s not all about what you portray that day–what happens before you get on the stage is important,too. In pageants, you put yourself in this position where you’re on the stage by yourself trying to show everyone that you’re amazing…but you’re surrounded by all these other amazing women, too! It takes a lot of courage, confidence and strength. It’s hard but you have to have confidence in yourself that you can portray the best version in yourself.
It’s not all about who is the smartest or prettiest, it’s about who is most comfortable in her own skin. I’m not sure if I would have found that confidence in any other experience in my life if I hadn’t found this. These experiences have allowed me to share that confidence and other aspects of my life with others on a big stage.
Nia on set of ABC-10 Philadelphia following her win
P.H.: How are you preparing for the Miss Pennsylvania pageant?
Nia: I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching through dance. It’s a mental release and I remind myself to breath and that I can create things out of nothing. I also like t choreograph–it’s a stress reliever. On top of that, I also make sure I have a healthy diet. I didn’t realize how important that was until I started doing pageants. My whole body and my whole day feels a lot better when I eat clean and healthy. I also take time to relax and think about what actions can make me the best Nia possible. Whether it be to choose to go to the gym or to read, I think about how the decisions affect me.
P.H.: What other goals do you have for the year?
Nia: I’m hoping to do A Night with Miss Philadelphia concert or event where the arts of Philadelphia would be on display. Philadelphia has a negative reputation sometimes because of the crime and poverty rates; however, there’s so much beauty and art here. There are so many actors, poets, artists, dancers… we have a really strong beautiful arts community. I’d love to bring that out by having a benefit event where money can go toward the March of Dimes Foundation and also open people’s eyes to all the beauty in Philadelphia.
To keep up with Nia’s journey as Miss Philadelphia, follow the Miss Philadelphia Scholarship Organization on Facebook.