Hey everyone, welcome to my blog! For those of you who stumbled upon my page, thanks for being here! I’m Annika (like Hanukkah without the “H”) and I was born in Kansas, grew up in Virginia and moved back to Kansas for college, and never left! Some of you may know me from my time as Miss Kansas 2019 + 2020. It’s been a wild ride and I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything. Let’s start from the beginning!
I was born in Kansas but we moved to Virginia when I was five years old for my dad’s career. Growing up, I loved fairies - reading about them, storytelling, painting them, all of it! (I will even swear to this day I saw one in my backyard) It probably comes as no surprise that I grew up in the arts and was always surrounded by music, markers, colored pencils, paint, and theater. I was heavily involved in community theater growing up and so many of those experiences helped my creativity flourish.
My dad is an entrepreneurial businessman and very creative, which makes sense because his mom (my grandma) is a fine arts painter. His entire family is so musically talented, it’s unreal. And then my mom is a graphic designer and sings and plays guitar, so having two parents with this many creative skills really allowed me to believe in my talents and try everything at least once.
In elementary school, I had a teacher named Ms. Bryant. She was the first person to recognize something different in me. She gave me a book on Georgia O’Keefe, a famous female painter, because she recognized that spark I had to learn more in the realm of art. She would always give me special projects outside of class and even asked me to design and paint a mural for the teacher’s lounge. The Teacher’s Lounge! I felt like the coolest kid in the school! The mural turned out amazing and I’ll still never forget that first moment that someone put stock in my talents and gave me a platform to make my own mark.
Two of my biggest mentors in high school, Keith and Kenji, really took the time to invest in me and focused on feeding my fire. They are still some of my best friends and gave me so many opportunities to lead by designing lights in our theater productions, set design, and just being an integral part of the shows that we put on. I loved having that leadership responsibility within my niche.
I graduated high school in Virginia, but always felt so connected to Kansas (Rock Chalk!). When it came to looking at colleges, I had big dreams of going to New York City for art school, but ended up being set on going to an art school close to home. I ended up looking at the Kansas City Art Institute as a wildcard and wanted to tour the campus. When we arrived, my dad asked to go down the road a little way to Lawrence, Kansas to show me around his old stomping grounds at his alma mater, the University of Kansas. As soon as I stepped foot on the KU campus, I knew that’s where I was meant to be.
It wasn’t until that moment that I really knew what I wanted in a college campus. I le