A Pacific Lutheran University junior, Anikka Abbott, placed second in this year’s Miss Pierce County pageant, finishing right behind class of 2013 PLU alum Megan Leibold.
The Miss Pierce County Scholarship Organization has a history of giving scholarships to young women for more than 40 years.
Pierce County has had more women than any other Washington county go on to become Miss Washington and represent the state at the Miss America pageant.
The Miss Pierce County pageant is a 501c3 non-profit organization that awards scholarships to women between the ages of 17-24 pageant judges find “outstanding” within the county.
“The pageant shows a lot of different aspects of who you are, and it seeks out those who are very well rounded,” Abbott said.
Judges observe contestants in six main categories, including a private interview, a community service platform, an evening gown portion, a talent showcase, an on-stage questionnaire and a swimsuit portion.
“While it is controversial, it is also the lowest portion of your score,” Abbott said. “I do believe, however, that the swimsuit portion is a necessary component of the competition. It builds self confidence and appreciation for your body. As long as you are comfortable with your body you will be fine.”
The board of judges hear the interview portion of the competition the night prior to the event.
“The biggest portion of your score is the interview, which is 40 percent of your score,” Abbott said. “The interview itself is very hard. You are expected to be up to date on politics as well as give thoughtful opinions on subjects like abortion or Obamacare.”
The talent segment of the competition is the second largest portion of the total score. Abbott, who studies vocal performance at PLU, displayed her voice in front of Sunday’s crowd singing “Time to Say Goodbye” by Sarah Brightman.
There is more to the Miss Pierce County pageant than being able to sing, however. Every participant is expected to be somehow involved in her community.
Abbott said she is very involved with the Young Women’s Christian Association and routinely speaks to young people about empowering themselves and preventing stalking and harassment.
“I chose that platform because I was stalked my freshman year of college, so it’s a very important platform to myself,” Abbott said.
For her work, Abbott won a $1,500 scholarship.
“Rather than setting women back,” Abbott said, “pageants give young women an opportunity to show that they can speak their mind, they can have an opinion, they are up to date on current events and they are just as smart as anyone else. It’s an opportunity to cultivate your mind, your body and your spirit.”