Anikka Abbott had been competing in the Miss Pierce County pageant for four years. So when her name was announced as the winner Feb. 21 during the event at Curtis High School, she wasn’t quite sure she heard correctly.
“When they called my name it took me a minute to recognize (it),” Abbott said.
Abbott is a senior at Pacific Lutheran University majoring in vocal performance for opera. She’s also a “very proud Tide,” who graduated from Gig Harbor High School in 2011.
After college, she plans to take a gap year to continue voice lessons before applying to conservatories in Germany and on the east coast.
Opera is passion for Abbott, who performed in her first opera at 11 years old.
“That’s when I absolutely fell in love with it,” she said. “It’s just and all-encompassing art form.”
For her platform, Abbott chose to speak out about domestic violence. It’s a subject she’s passionate about and something that hits close to home. In her freshman year at PLU, she had a stalker.
“That was the most terrifying time of my life,” she said.
So for her, using her status as Miss Pierce County to draw attention to problems that are often kept under wraps is important. She knows what it’s like to feel alone.
Abbott quite literally wants to use her voice to help victims. She hopes to hold a benefit recital to raise money for the YWCA this summer. She also wants to speak to high school health classes about domestic violence.
The 21-year-old spent a good deal of time going through the legal system to protect herself, and she also gives credit to her friends and family for helping her through it all.
On top of that, she needed resources in order to feel safe again, that’s why raising money to help provide therapy and other healing activities is a passion for her.
“That was pretty instrumental to me being able to cope with that and not be scared anymore,” she said.
Up next for Abbott is the Miss Washington pageant. It’s a little hard to wrap her head around, but if she wins that title she’ll jet off to compete for Miss America. It’s a pageant she’s watched with her mother for years, marveling at the evening gowns.
Nowadays, after competing and volunteering, the Miss America pageant is different for her. It’s a way to use her voice and share her passions.
“Now I know it’s so much more than evening gowns,” Abbott said.