Miss America 2009 Katie Stam once said, “I wish I could add a fifth point to the Miss America crown. There’s scholarship, style, service, and success.. I wish I could add substance.”
As I’ve noted countless times, these young women are about so much more than makeup, hairspray and heels. They want to make a difference. They want to make people smile. They want to improve lives.
In some cases, they want to save lives.
Miss Northwest’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Makenzie Davies
“After hearing so many stories of teen suicide and just suicide in general, I felt like I needed to make a change,” Makenzie told me recently. “Lifeguards are certified in CPR and lifesaving techniques. Young parents look for daycare providers who are trained to care for their children in the case of an emergency. Schools and local businesses often require their staff to be certified in CPR for the added safety of their students or customers. There is now another program readily available and would allow people to be trained to help someone in the case of mental or emotional crises that could lead to the person choosing suicide as their solution.”
A powerful message shared by a passionate, young advocate. Makenzie is a student at St. Patrick’s High School in North Platte, describing herself as hard-working and dedicated.
“Being dedicated to something means you are devoted to a purpose or task, having loyalty or integrity towards that purpose,” said Makenzie.” “Hard-work is taking it a step further by working with energy and commitment, being diligent towards the purpose or task.”
That mentality helped Makenzie win the title of Miss Northwests’s Outstanding Teen last fall, something she had hoped for for several years.
“As a Little Sister Alumni, I have had the wonderful opportunity to volunteer and be involved in this organization every year,” said Makenzie. “I actually volunteered last year backstage for the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen pageant and I had so much fun. That day, I told my mom this is what I want to do.”
And Makenzie embraces ALL aspects of the organization, not just what she saw that night on stage.
In addition to her high school studies and activities, Makenzie has embraced her role as a community leader and public servant. She has visited classrooms to read, emceed charity events like the Bowl-A-Thon for Junior Achievement of Lincoln, and visited with the little girls who look up to her just as she did not so long ago.
Makenzie has also used her title to spread awareness about that cause she’s so passionate about: suicide prevention. She calls her personal platform ‘Ask a Question. Save a Life.’
“Suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst teens today,” said Makenzie. “Teens attempting suicide have a very hard time talking to someone about their problems. Teens feeling suicidal often feel hopeless, isolated and powerless to change the situation they are in. This is why the QPR program (Question, Persuade, Refer) is so important to me.”
Makenzie ordered and distributed awareness bracelets at school assemblies. Her school rallied behind her efforts, gathering all students for a presentation by Makenzie on suicide awareness. (An event covered by KNOP – click here to watch their story!) She’s also visited state senators in Lincoln to advocate for suicide awareness legislation.
“My plan is to motivate people in local communities to recognize the need for certifications in QPR,” said Makenzie. “The QPR program has been implemented in may communities as a required certification for teachers, police officers, hospital support staff and local community members. The 90-minute training helps to remove the stigma of fear and train people to effectively speak to those that may be in crisis.”
Makenzie hopes to broaden her message even more, by becoming Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen later this month.
“I would really like to continue working with Region 2 Health and Human Services to build awareness of the QPR Program and stop teen suicide,” said Makenzie. “[This organization] has taught me how to go after what I believe in, which is stopping teen suicide and building the awareness of the growing epidemic. It has also helped me in so many ways on a personal level.”
Makenzie notes improved communication skills, friendships, and the chance to share one of her other passions: dance.
“My favorite part of the competition is definitely the talent portion,” said Makenzie. “I have been dancing since I was 4 years old so being able to learn a new dance and show the judges and audience my passion and love for it really makes me excited to perform. To perform by myself on stage dancing and really show the fun that I am having is really exhilarating.”
Makenzie used one more word to describe herself: kind. And perhaps, that’s where this young woman’s story about pageants, performance and passion comes full circle.
“I try to live by what my parents have always told me,” said Makenzie. “That is, ‘you never know what is going on in another person’s life so always choose to be kind.”
“To be kind to all, to like many and love a few, to be needed and wanted by those we love, is certainly the nearest we can come to happiness.” – Mary Stuart
I’d argue this is the biggest point we can all take away from this young woman and outstanding teens like her. What kind of difference can you make in the world today by simply asking questions, caring, and being kind? Makenzie Davies wants to find out.
“I put my heart into the things I choose to do,” said Makenzie. “I feel that if you are doing something you like and work hard, you will get the most out of life.”
For more information about the Miss Chadron/Miss Northwest/Miss Fur Trade Days’ Outstanding Teen Program or for information about becoming a contestant, CLICK HERE to follow the organization on Facebook. You can also email Director Amanda Vogel by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 308-665-5595.
The Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant takes place April 21-22 in Omaha, Nebraska.
To read more about this year’s contestants, or the Miss Nebraska/Miss Nebraska’s OT classes of 2014-2016 click the THERE SHE IS link at the top of the page!