Mackenzie Essner – Texas Interview by Inspiring Teens Nomination by Angie Reed Photography by Kevyn Ryan Photography Issue 42 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
The Nomination: Mackenzie Essner is an inspiring teen because of her dedication to serving her community. She has volunteered with a Special Needs Cheerleading team for 6 years and at a Summer Camp for Special Needs children for 5 years. She is currently serving as President of a volunteer organization where she volunteers with Meals on Wheels, Alzheimer’s Association, Northwest Assistance Ministries and A Smart Rescue. In addition to her volunteering she is the Captain of her Cheerleading Team, National Honor Society Member, is in FFA where she has raised chickens and a pig and has been a Girl Scout since Kindergarten.
Photography by Kevyn Ryan Photography
You volunteer for a lot of different organizations. Which was your first and how/why did you get started? I started volunteering at my competitive cheerleading gym with their special needs cheer team in the division “CheerAbilities.” At the time I was around 12 years old and this position was offered to me by my mother who thought it would be something I enjoyed. I was nervous and standoff-ish at first because I felt like I was the only one who did not know what I was doing. Turns out you don’t need to know what you’re doing because helping with these kids came like second nature to me. I am greatly thankful for my mother’s ability to know me better than I know myself because now, at almost 18 years old, I have a paid coaching position with these special needs athletes including tumbling classes and cheerleading.
What is the volunteer organization you are president of, and what are your roles and responsibilities? I currently serve as the 2020-2021 President of a mother-daughter philanthropic organization called Junior Guild. I previously served as the Sophomore Coordinator and Parliamentarian. As President, I run our monthly general meetings, create meeting plans, write our newsletters, and encourage others to exceed their volunteer hour expectations. As a member of Junior Guild, I complete volunteer hours with our Philanthropies, help plan and execute our three annual formal events, and participate in fundraising.
What is a favorite memory from volunteering? In the summer of 2019, I was volunteering at Camp Blessing Texas, which is a summer camp that accommodates special needs individuals. I was serving my first year as a junior counselor where I was assigned a camper to care for the rest of the week. My camper was wheelchair bound, non-verbal, and fed through a G-tube. She had a hard time sleeping through the night and at the end of our 3rd day together she was exhausted, frustrated, and overall, in a bad mood. After talking to her and letting her release some frustration, we headed inside to join the other campers in the annual luau. She loved getting out of her chair and being held in order to dance. The joy on her face said everything words would never be able to, and through the duration of the luau we danced, laughed, and played together before heading back to our cabin and off to bed. Even though the day was not the best to start out, it ended with such a beautiful moment I was lucky to share with my camper.
Photography by Kevyn Ryan Photography
What does being a leader in your community mean to you and what do you think is your strongest attribute as a leader? To me, being a leader means more than telling people what to do and how to do it. A leader should be someone who sets a positive example to their peers and others around them. This kind of leadership requires not only setting a good example when you think people are watching but doing the right thing even when no one is holding you accountable. Integrity is something that a good leader should possess, and I am proud to say this quality is what prevails as my strongest leadership trait.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be where you are today? Consistency, growth, and just putting yourself out there is where it starts. Throughout my high school career, I have volunteered about 900 hours in my community, as big as this number sounds, it just started with one hour. When you are constant, one hour turns into two, then three, then before you know it you've made a difference in the community whether it's big or small.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years/what are your plans? After ideally graduating from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental science in the spring of 2025, I will be starting my career as an Environmental Compliance Inspector where I will inspect anything from large corporations to small companies on their ability to comply with environmental laws, ordinances, and regulations.
What is your favorite activity or pastime that was not in your nomination? Something kinda silly I do to pass the time when I’m bored is watch and create TikToks. Over the last year I have grown a small following for myself of 10k followers on the app. TikTok is a form of social media used to share videos between 15 and 60 seconds long; they can be entertaining, informative, and can be a great way to express yourself.
Photography by Angie Reed
Do you have a hidden talent? What is it? From being center dancer in my cheerleading routines, to two-stepping out with friends, I have always had a knack for dancing. So, I would say my hidden talent is dancing.
3 Things on your bucket list My number one bucket list goal is definitely to earn an Aggie ring from Texas A&M. Number two would be to travel somewhere outside of the country, and number three is to learn American Sign Language.
Who do you find inspiring? I find my past AP Environmental Science teacher, Ms. Thompson super inspiring. She is fluent in Korean from spending her summers overseas teaching children who don't have easy access to education. Without a second thought Ms. Thompson has made a long-lasting impact on her students and the world they will grow up to live in. She is so passionate about what she does and makes sure her students know their worth and what they can do to make a difference. She has taught me everything I know about environmental science and sparked the passion I have for it now. She is one of the most selfless people I know and never fails to disappoint.
What about you inspires others/why do you think you are inspiring? I think my steadfast way of loving is what makes me inspiring. I care for everything and everyone so deeply and just want to aide and love those around me because I believe everyone deserves to have someone like that. Everything I have exhibited in my life including my volunteer work, leadership, selflessness, and passion to help those around me stems from love. Love is what makes the world go around no matter what that love is for, but love for the good things in life is what creates passion and inspiration.
Look for Mackenzie in issue 42 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!