Questions for Amber Collins, Fast Track Student and Miss New York USA

Amber Collins, a graduate student in Steinhardt’s Fast Track to Teaching Program, was crowned Miss New York USA at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Albany, New York on November 28th. As Miss New York, Collins will go on to represent her state on national television in the Miss USA pageant on NBC next spring.

Talk about your studies at NYU. Why did you choose our Fast Track Program?

I chose Steinhardt’s Fast Track to Teaching partly because I was a “career changer” and I’m eager to get back into the job market and begin doing what I love. The accelerated program is appealing to me because I can fully immerse myself into teaching and learning for one full year and come out of the program as a certified teacher with a master’s degree. I began course work in June, and the past six months of fast track have been intensive but achievable. My early childhood classmates have become like family and we really do support each other along the way.

Where do you teach and what is that experience like for you?

Currently, I am student teaching in a multi-age K/1 class at the wonderfully eclectic PS 3 in Greenwich Village. My experience has been amazing especially because my beliefs about teaching correspond with the schools progressive philosophy.  Teachers encourage creativity through the arts and provide hands-on learning experiences for students with materials and subjects that have meaning for their lives. I feel so fortunate to be a part of the PS 3 learning community and I am overwhelmed by the genuine support and encouragement they gave me after winning the title of Miss New York USA. Everyone in the school’s office cheered for me when I came to school to show my students the crown and sash. It was a remarkable feeling!

What was it like being crowned Miss New York?

The moment is difficult to express in words. Honestly, I had done a few pageants before in Texas, but this year just felt different. I was confident and truly proud of myself and what I have accomplished. I believe my life experiences have shaped my character, and I wanted to make all of my family and friends proud by doing my personal best. When I walked on stage, I felt deserving of the title and this showed in the way I carried myself. For me Miss New York was a journey, not a destination. I knew I had matured into that confident and charismatic woman who inspires people. Miss New York USA should not just be an icon of beauty, but should have the brains and heart to match. The feeling I had when they called my name is indescribable. But I could not have done this alone; I was thrilled to share the moment with my amazing network of support.

What do you see yourself doing five years from now?

Hmm. This type of question is always tough for me because I want my life to be exciting and unpredictable!  But wherever life leads me I know that I will continuously pursue my passions for working with young children and writing. I want to teach, inspire, create, and learn. Five years from now, I hope to be a published author and have written a collection of children’s books that will eventually become a film. And of course, I can’t forget my love of travel. Ideally, I see myself traveling the world, teaching and inspiring children, and writing about my adventures.

Photo: Former Miss New York Davina Reeves crowned Steinhardt graduate student Amber Collins Miss New York at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Albany, New York in November.

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Steinhardt’s Fast Track to Teaching Program in its Department of Teaching and Learning offers a 12- 14 month full-time master’s degree program in teacher education to accelerate the teacher certification process.