By Jennifer L. Warren
HIGHLAND FALLS – Service. Scholarship. Success. Style.
They are the four “S’s” that the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen represents. And this year, the organization chose Asia Hickman as the New York State winner, beating out 22 other girls from ages 13-17.
Encompassing all of these qualities, and much more, Hickman, just 13 years old at the time of her honor, was one of the youngest state winners who will be heading to the Rosen Centre Theatre in Orlando, Florida later this month for the National Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Competition. Now 14 and a recent eighth grade graduate of the Kaufman Special Music School, Hickman, whose mother is in the military, was born in Germany and has spent much of her life residing in Korea; she has also lived in three states in this country.
Carrying an impressive list of eclectic credentials, she is set to attend Laguardia High School for Music and Performing Arts in the fall. Introduced into the world of music at six years old, when she started to play the violin, an instrument she later followed up with the piano, music has always been her first love. That passion evolved into the creation of the non-profit organization, Asia Hickman Music Inc.
“My non-profit helps to fund music lessons for children that are less fortunate but have a real love for music they want to pursue,” explained Hickman, who now lives at the United States Military Academy at West Point. “They are kids who have a passion for music just like me, and we now have about 30-40 students that we have helped out with their music dreams.”
A Carnegie Hall performer as well as Apollo Theater 2016 Child Star Winner, Hickman’s music talents run deep. In fact, they are the catalyst for her platform: “A piece from the heart, inspiring youth to find their musical passion,” as the Miss America New York Outstanding Teen Representative. It’s a platform that includes the recent launching of “Partnership With a Purpose,” a piece of her non-profit, aimed at providing portable pianos to Children Miracle Network Hospitals.
That commitment to music has already resulted in hopes of attending the Juillard School (if not Columbia), with career aspirations of becoming a concert pianist. The altruistic, compassionate teenager further has her sites set on continuing to pursue her volunteer passion as a philanthropist.
Hickman’s road to her New York victory began last summer when she was introduced by Teens in Training to last year’s Miss America’s Outstanding Teen from New York, Lauren Whitfield. Receiving priceless mentorship from Whitfield and others, Hickman developed integral skills in areas such as; dance numbers, photo shoots and stage questions. Diligently watching and taking in as much as she could of the rehearsals, Hickman was well-prepared for this year’s competition. Now, having received the lofty honor, she wants to serve as a role model to others, paying it forward, while making the most of the opportunity.
“It’s definitely an honor and a privilege to be able to represent New York State at Nationals,” said Hickman, a six-time Presidential Volunteer Service Award recipient, accruing over 1,342 volunteer hours, including spearheading a 600 count coat drive for New York Cares. “I now have a responsibility to continue to dedicate myself to volunteering as well as helping the community and staying informed about what is going on in the world, as I will be a spokesperson at many events.”
The Miss America Organization is the nation’s largest provider of scholarship assistance for young women, granting millions of dollars each year. Hickman earned monies for a selected college, should she choose to attend there in the future. She has the opportunity to win even more scholarship funds with a win at Nationals. However, beyond the monetary perks of being involved with the competition, there are other, much more deeply valuable intangibles that attract Hickman to her involvement with Miss America Outstanding Teen.
“The organization really pushes educational benefits as well as volunteering and having a chance for teenagers to speak about what they really believe in,” said Hickman. “It’s definitely helped me build my confidence and on-the-spot speaking as well as poise and so many other important life skills.”