On Friday, February 16th, Central High School alum Nia Andrews (271) stands in front of a group of freshmen and sophomores. Her tiara sparkles under the lights of the Spain Conference Center as she speaks with confidence about the importance of actualizing your dreams. Miss Andrews knows all about this topic because she is the current Miss Philadelphia.
Originally competing in the Miss West Chester University pageant in order to gain scholarships, Andrews was discovered and encouraged to compete in larger scale competitions. “It was just searching for scholarship money and I stumbled upon [this opportunity,] which was really nice. I also wanted to represent my city because a lot of the Miss Philadelphia’s aren’t actually born and raised in Philadelphia. I wanted to just come back and help the community that ultimately made me who I am today,” she says.
The message Andrews tries to convey to students is the importance of self-love and of protecting their goals and themselves as they continue their education. When she asks them what is needed to be successful, one student stands up and says, “Connections!” Again Andrews knows about this due to the strong connections she has made through becoming Miss Philadelphia.
She explains, “I’ve met my mentor; I met someone who I look up to and is doing exactly what I want to do. She’s going and she’s speaking on behalf of different healthcare things on the news and stuff like that, and educating the community on how to live a healthy lifestyle and I wouldn’t have met her if I wasn’t Miss Philadelphia[…] I’ve met millionaires, I’ve met billionaires, I’ve met people who are former mayors and governors, and it’s really been a nice way to connect myself in the area.” This ability to go out and make connections was not only fostered through competing but also her experience at Central High School.
Andrews usually talks to students younger than 5th grade, but the opportunity to return to her “alma mater true” was one that was too good to pass up. Andrews is proof that who you are in high school may change, but the lessons you learn will remain with you forever. She says, “Central has made me the person I am today, as far as my work ethic and as far as who I am as a woman and just putting my best foot forward everytime that I leave my house. I also learned a lot of life skills that I learned from different teachers like Mr. I, Mr. Hung, and Mr. Sheikh. They really taught me things that I needed to learn so that I can be academically inclined, but also things that I need to know for the rest of my life.”
As Andrews continues to spread her lessons in confidence around Philadelphia through her reminder that there is power and love inside each of us, we wish her the best of luck representing not only her city but also her Lancer Spirit!
Dylan Lewis (277)