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Meet MacKenzie Freed of Miss California Organization

Today we’d like to introduce you to MacKenzie Freed.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My journey to the Miss America stage took place over the span of six years. When I was a junior in high school, my mom was looking for scholarship opportunities since I was planning on attending a university. She came across a Miss America local competition close to home that touted scholarships for the winners. My mom wanted me to do it, thinking I could win a scholarship. I told her no but, as most mothers are, she was extremely persistent and kept mentioning it for an entire year until I relented to calling the director of the pageant to get some more information. At the time, the competition was two weeks away. The director told me that I could compete this year despite the short time frame. So, I threw together all of the necessary elements to compete and two weeks later, at 17 years old, I won Miss San Joaquin County 2013 and $1,500 in scholarship.

During the summer of that same year, I competed for the title of Miss California for the first time. I did not win, I didn’t even place, but I found a place in the Miss California Organization where I belonged. What many people do not know is the Miss America Organization is a scholarship program and a professional development organization for young women. During my six years of involvement trying to capture the Miss California crown and compete for Miss America, I have grown into the version of myself I always wanted to be. This program has taught me the most relevant skills that I put to use every day: interviewing, public speaking, interpersonal communication, networking, resume writing, and so much more. I landed a full-time job with benefits right out of college in my field of study and was offered the position outright during my second interview because of the practical life experiences I have gained from my participation. To date, I have also acquired over $35,000 in scholarship that I am using to off-set the cost of my education. I am a summa cum laude graduate of California Baptist University with a degree in Philosophy and Communication Studies. At 23 years old, one year after graduating, I was completely debt-free thanks to the scholarship dollars I earned through the Miss California Organization. My next academic journey is taking me to law school after the conclusion of my year serving as Miss California as I study to obtain my J.D.

As Miss California, I am also a passionate advocate for women in the workplace. My social impact initiative is called “From Classroom to Boardroom: Overcoming Workplace Bias” where I actively work to equip women of all ages with the tools necessary to advocate for themselves and be successful in whatever career they choose. Being in an organization like the Miss America Organization where I am continuously surrounded by the most incredible, talented, humble, intelligent, ambitious, and successful women in the country, I am at no shortage of inspiration to continue pursuing my passion working to achieve gender equity in the workplace. I work with the LA branch of a spectacular organization called Dress for Success to achieve this goal. Dress for Success offers programs that help women achieve financial independence through employment and gives them the tools to be successful in that endeavor from work attire to financial planning. It has been such an honor to use the influence of the crown to make real, positive change in the community. Being based in the greater LA area, I have spent a significant portion of my year doing events in and around Los Angeles and have enjoyed my time representing, not only LA but the entire state at Miss America and beyond. It has truly been my honor to represent this incredible state and the only place that will ever truly be home.

Has it been a smooth road?
Absolutely not! This was my fourth time competing for Miss California. I started at 17 years old, a senior in high school, competing against women who had already completed their graduate degrees and accomplished incredible things. I made plenty of missteps and lost far more often than I won during my journey to Miss America, but that really prepared me for the job. I learned how to be confident in myself, my abilities, and my qualifications. I learned how to be a gracious loser and use that disappointment to ignite a fire that drove me to continuously work harder to improve. I would be a very different person if it weren’t for those, at the time, unfortunate struggles leading up to this point.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Miss California Organization – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
The Miss California Organization is the largest provider of scholarship assistance for women in the state of California. In 2018, we awarded over $148,000 to over 70 young women who want to pursue higher education. We are a completely volunteer run organization, meaning no one takes a salary. Everyone who dedicates their time, talents, funds, and effort to make this program successful does so because they believe in the difference it makes in the lives of the women who participate. I will assert that the Miss California Organization is a professional development program as well. Participants learn how to write a resume, they participate in a rigorous interview process, they refine public speaking and communication skills, learn poise and confidence in high stress situations, and so much more. As I mentioned earlier, I was offered a job right out of college in my field of study on the spot during my second interview and I wholeheartedly believe that would not have happened without the knowledge and experience I gained during my many years of involvement with the Miss California Organization. We truly are preparing great women for the world and preparing the world for great women.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love the opportunity of Los Angeles! Like I said, during my year as Miss California, I have done many events in and around the greater LA area because there is always something happening. I’ve gotten to explore new and exciting parts of the city and network with so many people with every booking I received and it never disappointed. For my least favorite part, one word: traffic.

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Image Credit:

Nick Worrell, Taylor Coloka Photography, Lisa G Artistry, Doug Hikawa

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