Hills Student Takes the Stage in Carnegie & Miss Universe


Skylar Warren tickles the keys at Carnegie. (Photo courtesy of Skylar Warren)

Phoebe Sessler and Sofia Senesie

While some may dream of performing on the big stage, Warren Hills junior Skylar Warren is making her dreams a reality. Warren participated in this year’s Miss New Jersey Teen USA pageant and has had multiple self-composed  piano performances at Carnegie Hall.

The year 2019 will mark the fourth year she will be auditioning and performing at Carnegie Hall. Warren will also partake in another pageant in March.

Warren said she has many different inspirations for creating her compositions and participating in her pageants:

“I get inspired by whatever emotions I feel while I’m at the piano,” she said. ”For the pageant, I get inspired by what drives me to reach my goals and to inspire other girls to reach their goals. Even though they’re not the specific stereotype of what a pageant girl is, anybody can do what they want to do if they can put their minds to it.”

Warren is self-taught at the piano as well as professionally taught. After she outgrew her childhood teacher, Warren taught herself piano two years before auditioning to be instructed by a professional who then encouraged her to audition for the chance to play at Carnegie.

“I started writing my own music in that time and using Synthesia on Youtube to learn songs that I would play at family reunions or talent shows until my family encouraged me to look for a teacher who would build on my composition skills,” she said.

Warren said it took a lot of time and effort for her  to prepare for the pageant. She had to raise money for her entrance fee, evening gown, interview dress, onstage dress, hemming, shoes, and tickets for family members. She made some of this money by selling 50 shirts she designed herself and raised the rest through numerous sponsorships ranging from 5 to 500 dollars, totalling about $3500.

Although Warren did not place in the final crowning, she said the reward was in developing strong friendships and gaining entrepreneurial experience.

“We all keep in touch, she said. “The queen who won, we all support her through her journey.”

For Warren, the pageant was a learning experience.

“It was a fierce competition this year,” she said,  “but I am happy to say that I am coming back better next year.”

To those who tell her to abandon those dreams, Warren said:

“People who say, ‘it’s stupid thing,’  they don’t have the courage to do it. It’s about bravery and being confidently beautiful,” she said, “because at the end of the day, everyone looks different, everyone comes from different parts of New Jersey, so obviously it’s about just being confident.”


If Warren’s schedule was not a full  enough, Warren also spends the rest of her time in extracurriculars and  Advanced Placement classes. She is involved with Jack and Jill Teens of America, Distributive Education Clubs of America, Junior Executive Club, and Varsity Track and Field. She is also technically enrolled as a freshman at Warren County Community College, her picture the face of the Dual Enrollment program.

Warren said such a full plate requires a specific mindset to be successful:

“It’s a lot of practice for everything, time management, not sleeping a lot of nights. It’s a lot of sacrifice too, because I  can’t do everything that I  want to do,” she said. “Instead of hanging out with friends, I have to practice piano or do all these different events.”

To Warren, however, the time investment pays off, as both Carnegie and the pageants mean a lot.

“My favorite part of the experience was when a little girl came up to me when I was volunteering at the town fair and asked to take a picture with me and said she wanted to be like me when she was older,” Warren said.  “The thought that I was empowering others already made me feel like I was wearing a crown.”