Abigail Heiser has graced the pages of our newspaper multiple times during the past several years as a member of the Johnston Police Department’s Explorer program, as a dedicated student in Johnston High School’s music program, for her academic achievements and for her community involvement.
She can now add the title of 2018 USA National Miss Rhode Island Teen to her list of impressive accomplishments.
“When my name was called, my heart kind of dropped and I was like, ‘Wow, really?’ I couldn’t believe it. It was really cool for me to hear my name, and the funny part was that I got my heel stuck before I got up there,” said Abby. “I got my heel stuck in the platform of the stage. I just knew that was going to happen to me, but it was funny and I shook it off.”
The USA National Miss pageant is a national organization whose goal is to enrich the lives of young women aged 4 through 25 through pageant experiences. The program recognizes personal achievement, community involvement and excellence. Participants become ambassadors of the pageant’s anti-bullying platform, The Crown C.A.R.E.S., or Creating a Respectful Environment in Schools. The organization also has awarded close to one million dollars in college scholarships and prizes for contestants.
Abby participated in the regional pageant held earlier this month at the Sheraton in Springfield, Mass., competing against about 30 other young women. Each participant took part in three areas of competition: an interview, evening gown, and runway fashion show.
She said she woke up at 4 a.m. the day of the competition to begin to prepare her hair in curls. Abby said she went through her traditional rituals, including moisturizing, makeup and more. She took part in several aspects of the competition, going on to be the only participant in the talent portion of the day, singing “Who Says” by Selena Gomez.
Abby added that she takes the pageant’s mission seriously. With the theme of The Crown C.A.R.E.S. and an important anti-bullying message, Abby plans on using her own life experiences to help others.
“That’s exactly what I wanted my mission to be because I was bullied before and it’s not a great feeling. Now, during my reign, I’m definitely going to schools and talk with students about bullying,” she said. “I’m definitely excited about doing volunteer work and paving my way to the national competition in Boca Raton, Florida, and I’ve never been to Florida before so that’ll be a really exciting experience.”
Born in California, Abby and her family moved to Johnston about seven years ago. She has a pageant coach and has been working with her to master and hone her talents. She also said she’s hit the gym and been working out constantly while maintaining a healthy diet. Her recent performance was accentuated by Sonia’s in Cranston, who helped provide her competition dresses.
Abby, now in her senior year, said her last year in high school has been challenging, adding that her “biggest cheerleader,” her grandmother, passed away last July. She also lost a friend, classmate and band member, Rachel Carson, who passed away earlier this year from undiagnosed leukemia. Abby spoke at Rachel’s memorial service.
“It’s definitely been a wild senior year so far, not wild in a bad way or in a good way, just not the way that you would expect it to happen. I expected all these great things to happen and they don’t always work out that way, and that’s okay,” she said. “None of us expected Rachel’s passing, that was not expected at all. I just knew immediately that we had to put everything that we do here out in her name.”
Abby approached Music Department Chairman and teacher Ronald Lamoureux so that a scholarship could be set up in Rachel’s name, one centered around the environment and nature, which Rachel loved. As president of Tri-M, the music honor society at the school, Abby said the organizations are doing fundraisers to raise money for the scholarship.
“She was a big part of our band. She was a good friend,” said Abby.
Encouraged by Lamoureux, Abby hopes to follow her passion by attending Berklee College of Music when she graduates. She plans on studying professional music, which combines three majors of songwriting, music engineering and vocal performance.
“I’m also thinking about joining the National Guard. I’ve talked to a recruiter multiple times and they’re getting to me. They’d pay for college and that would be a huge thing for me,” she said. “It would also be a compromise for what I want to do in life. I’m in Police Explorers and I’m a singer, those are two completely different fields. I wanted to make that some part of my life.”
Without the support from her mom, however, she’s not sure how far she would have traveled on this journey.
“She supports me 100 percent. She pays for everything I need, and I honestly don’t know how she does it all without losing her mind. My mom is my biggest supporter,” said Abby.
Abby hopes to proudly represent the community during the nationals, which will be held in the beginning of July. She has a part-time job working at the Johnston Home Depot for the last seven or eight months, hoping to save for expenses necessary to travel to and participate in the competition.
If any local business or individual would like to support Abby’s trip to the national competition, a Facebook page, 2018 USA National Miss Rhode Island Teen Abby Rain Heiser, has been set up to provide more information.