By Evan Heringer ’16
PLU Marketing & Communications
TACOMA, Wash. (March 26, 2015)—Megan Leibold ’13 and Anikka Abbott ’15 have more in common than Pacific Lutheran University: They both have won the title of Miss Pierce County. And not only that, but they also won back-to-back: Leibold won in February 2014 and crowned Abbott the new Miss Pierce County on Feb. 21.
“I never wanted to do pageants; I thought they were nuts,” Leibold said.
But after receiving her Associate degree at Olympic College, she started competing in hopes of attaining enough scholarship money to transfer to PLU.
“I needed scholarship dollars to make it happen, and even if I didn’t place, I got paid, so I thought, why not?” she said.
Leibold first competed in Miss West Sound and decided to compete in Miss Pierce County after transferring to PLU. After winning that, Leibold went on to take second place at the Miss Washington pageant and won the award for Talent.
Leibold graduated from PLU with a Bachelor’s of Music with a concentration in Vocal Performance and now teaches private voice and piano lessons at the Washington Academy of Music and sings with the jazz combo The Pit Crew in Tacoma.
“I don’t think there is that appreciation of classical music; one thing I hope is that I will help my generation understand and appreciate that style of music,” Leibold said.
Turns out she and Abbott share a musical interest, too.
Abbott is pursuing a Bachelor’s of Music with a concentration in Vocal Performance for Opera and hopes to sing with an opera upon graduation. In addition to working three jobs and competing in pageants, she’s also a member of PLU’s Choir of the West.
The scholarship money from the pageants is definitely a plus, but Abbott also uses the pageants to further her career and advocate for important issues.
“I’ve grown so much in my interview skills and my public performance skills; it’s kind of a vehicle to work with my passion for opera and my passion for domestic violence,” Abbott said.
Abbott, a survivor of domestic violence, uses the pageants as an opportunity to advocate for victims and raise awareness about the issue.
“It’s something that many of us have to deal with; many women are survivors, and it’s something that needs to be brought to the forefront,” Abbott said. She also works and volunteers for YWCA Pierce County, where she helps and advocates for victims of domestic violence.
Leibold and Abbott competed together in the Miss Pierce County 2014 pageant and have remained friends since.
“The Miss America program is kind of like a sorority; we meet all of these women and become friends,” Abbott said.
Abbott will compete in the Miss Washington pageant in July; if she wins, she’ll advance to the Miss America competition.
“I just really hope that more women can feel empowered to participate in something like this and realize that it is really trying to benefit women and provide them with scholarship money to succeed,” Leibold said.