In 1999, all that Annette Addo-Yobo had was her family, two suitcases, a couple hundred dollars and a dream to move to the United States from her home country of Ghana. At the time, being crowned the winner of a beauty pageant was not a thought in her mind.
In September 2022, former UTD student Addo-Yobo was crowned Miss Dallas 2023. Addo-Yobo was inspired to enter the contest after seeing the former Miss Texas 2021, Averie Bishop, on TikTok. In the TikTok, Bishop had mentioned that she won $30,000 in scholarships, catching Addo-Yobo’s attention as someone with $80,000 in student debt. However, scholarships were not the only reason she chose to compete.
“I wanted to be a part of something that will not only allow me to serve my community and work on my platform but also earn scholarships, and that’s how I got involved in the Miss America organization,” Addo-Yobo said.
Moving to Maryland, Canada, and then eventually ending up in Allen, Texas in 2009, Addo-Yobo went to UTD for her bachelor’s degrees in psychology and child learning and development, graduating in 2020. She then went to Sam Houston State for her master’s degree in clinical psychology. Addo-Yobo said that she aspires to be a lawyer and will go to law school after finishing her master’s degree, planning on starting out as a family attorney. She is interested in eventually going into politics, which stemmed from taking notice of the lack of representation of her race in office.
“Ultimately, I just got tired of not seeing myself represented in politics and the legislation that has been passed to leave a lot of us out, that has discriminated against us, that has taken away our rights and autonomy,” Addo-Yobo said. “I just got tired of waiting for somebody to come in and do the right thing, I took it upon myself. I’m hoping that while I’m in law school, I can work on campaigns, gain the experience, meet the right people, and then launch my own campaign one day.”
Courtney Breechen, senior associate dean of undergraduate education, has been one of Addo-Yobo’s role models throughout her time at UTD and is still in touch with her now.
“Working with Annette during her career at UT Dallas positively impacted me professionally, and I feel lucky that the admiration I have for her is reciprocated,” Breechen said.
Additionally, Breechen said that Addo-Yobo understood the importance of discussing mental health at a national level. Due to the staggering statistics of college student mental health struggles, Breechen said, Addo-Yobo intends to drive systemic change through awareness and advocacy, which can improve access to mental healthcare for underserved populations.
“Her own journey has informed this work,” Breechen said. “Annette has experienced stress. impostor syndrome, and navigated the anxiety caused by conflicting cultural norms and expectations between parents and children. She has experienced the constant worry of serving as a caregiver. She shares her powerful story to inspire others and to model what can be achieved when you dream big and strive to take care of yourself holistically.”
Addo-Yobo has started an initiative called “Cradle to College,” which provides mentorship and mental health programming for at-risk youth. She has also volunteered with the National Alliance on Mental Illness. After all her hard work for the communities around her with the “Miss Dallas” title, Addo-Yobo will be stepping down from the crown in September of this year.
“I really did not think I was gonna win, but it’s been an incredible experience in the last year, getting to do all these things that I never thought I’d be able to do,” Addo-Yobo said. “It’s incredible also to see younger black girls who see somebody that is in this role and looks like them, and they come up to you and they say ‘I have my hair just like you,’ or ‘I want to be you when I grow up!’ and it really reminds me that, although of course I’m winning scholarships and I’m developing myself, that my experience is also serving as a model for somebody else … and that just makes it even more of a job that I would do over and over again.”