WSU senior will compete for Miss Washington this week

Noël Anderson held Miss Tri-Cities title since 2021; she advocates for Setting Scoliosis Straight

JOSIAH PIKE, Evergreen reporter

Noël Anderson won Miss Tri-Cities in 2021 and Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen in 2016.

Noël Anderson, senior broadcast news major and Miss Tri-Cities, will be participating in the Miss Washington competition on Friday and Saturday. 

Anderson said she has been competing in the Miss America Organization program for six years, and she has held the Miss Tri-Cities title since 2021. 

When she participated in the Miss Washington competition for the first time in 2019, she was fresh out of high school and “not ready,” she said. Over the past few years, she has gained a newfound sense of confidence and experience in the program.

“I fell in love with the program for many reasons, one of them being it’s a scholarship organization. Win or lose, you’ll be getting money for your education,” Anderson said. “The other being getting interview experience, public speaking experience [and] performance experience. It’s a really well-rounded experience for me to practice all those things and raise awareness for something I’m passionate about, which is scoliosis awareness.”

As a part of the Miss America Organization competitions, the competitors typically select a cause they advocate for throughout the experience. Anderson said she supports bringing awareness to those suffering with scoliosis, which she has experienced firsthand. 

She was diagnosed with a minor curve at 11 years old and had surgery at 14 to correct her 50-degree curve.

“It was a very painful and traumatic experience for me,” Anderson said. “My personal connection is why I’m so passionate about it, and that’s why I promote research and awareness. Part of my involvement with Setting Scoliosis Straight is to share my story with others.”

Setting Scoliosis Straight is a nonprofit organization Anderson works with that focuses on raising awareness of the condition, she said.

“They empower families of patients by promoting research and awareness. They are a nonprofit so everything they do of course is helping families. They also help patients with resources that are reputable,” Anderson said.

The most important thing people can do to help people afflicted with scoliosis is to have empathy for them, Anderson said.

“It does affect a smaller population, but all of us as humans have gone through something that makes us feel alone and different,” Anderson said. “I would say to people to help understand, it’s something that’s out of our control and that’s difficult to live with, but I think if we’re open about it these individuals will feel more welcome.”

Anderson has developed a heart for service and a passion for helping others, which would make her a great candidate for Miss Washington, said Dot Stewart, Miss Tri-Cities executive director. 

“I’m very honored to know her and she does such a great job of helping others,” she said. “She’s very motivated. She sets her eyes on a goal and works her hardest to get there.”

Stewart first met her in 2016 when Anderson participated in her first competition, Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen, and was the first runner-up. 

Stewart has had a large role in helping Anderson throughout her time with the Miss America Organization, Anderson said.

“She’s my adviser for everything I do, and she helps me prepare for Miss Washington,” Anderson said. “She’s also my biggest support, so she’s the one who’s really helped me prepare for this great opportunity.”

Stewart is responsible for running the program, recruiting, mentoring and preparing the winners of Miss Tri-Cities for the statewide competition, she said. After Anderson won the Miss Tri-Cities title, Stewart said she worked with her on her social impact initiative, mock interview practice and shopping for a wardrobe.

“All those things that go into the competition. We also schedule appearances throughout the year, so they can interact with the community,” Stewart said. “It’s kind of equally important all around.”

Before competing for the first time, Anderson said the biggest appeal of the Miss America Organization was the talent portion of the competition. 

“I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember, and I saw the Miss America Organization competitions as a way to showcase my talent. I later found out all the amazing benefits and I loved the competition for everything that it is,” she said.

Should Anderson win the Miss Washington competition, their team will help her practice for the Miss America competition. Stewart will continue to support Anderson any way she can, she said. 

“The Miss Washington organization will be doing all the things that I’ve been doing to get her here,” Stewart said. “I just kind of step aside. If she were to win, I would be there at Miss America to watch her.”

If she wins the Miss Washington competition, Anderson said she will take a gap year from school to focus on fulfilling her duties as Miss Washington and preparing for the Miss America competition in December.

Before attending WSU, Anderson went to community college for two years, originally intending to become a teacher, she said. She eventually switched her major to communications right before her junior year. 

Anderson said she recommends that anyone who is interested in the Miss America Organization program take part in the competitions because there are plenty of benefits for those who compete.

“Win or lose, you get money for scholarships,” Anderson said. “You’re practicing your interview skills and public speaking skills and come out a better person.”