POWDERSVILLE—McKenzie Faulkner has had a senior year to remember.
The soon to be Wren High graduate was named Miss Powdersville earlier in the year, but she is using her newfound platform to shed some light on a more serious issue.
“I have two mentally disabled family members,” Faulkner said. “My cousin has Asperger’s Disease and my uncle has a Slow Learner’s disability, so I’ve become really interested in mental disorders. Seeing them have to struggle daily with discrimination and things they have to face because of something they can’t help has really impacted my life.”
The impact on her life has been so great that she decided to do something about it.
“I really feel like I’d like to make a difference in helping those with mental disorders through spreading awareness and possibly getting earlier diagnoses in the schools,” Faulkner said. “I think if the schools and the medical community can come together to help diagnose a child, it would really help the education experience.”
Faulkner said her stint as Miss Powdersville has been rewarding thus far.
“It has been a lot of work, but it has been so rewarding” Faulkner said. “I’ve made a lot of appearances in the local community. I’ve been able to visit schools and volunteer in special needs classes. Working side by side with them has just been really fun.”
One of her many visits included a recent trip to Clemson University, where she sat down with the head football coach.
“Dabo Swinney is such a sweet man and he’s such a great Christian representative of Clemson,” Faulkner said. “Going up there for the day was a lot of fun. I got to meet him and he told me a lot about his family. He also signed three footballs that we’re going to be auctioning off for the Children’s Miracle Network. It was just great.”
The senior memories did not stop there, however. Faulkner said she recently received what she said was a very special invitation to prom.
“Since my freshman year, I’ve known this guy named Colin (Pate) who has (a disability),” Faulkner said. “Recently we were doing a duet for this big competition our orchestra takes place in, and while we were practicing he asked me what I was going to do about prom. I told him that I hadn’t really been asked or anything and he said, “I was wondering if you would like to go with me.’ I told him, ‘of course I would,’ and we had a really great time.”
“We did win prom king and queen so he was really excited about that,” she said.
Trying to get through your final year of high school and win Miss South Carolina can be tough, but Faulkner said she cherishes the memories.
“I wouldn’t change a single thing about my senior year. I wouldn’t go back and not do the pageant because I feel like it has helped me grow as a person,” Faulkner said. “I love everything about being involved with this organization and I love everything they represent.”
“The girls I’m competing against don’t have school from eight in the morning until three in the afternoon, so they’re able to do a little more preparation” Faulkner continued. “Now that summer is here I will have more time to prepare.”
The Miss South Carolina Pageant is set for July 9-13 in Columbia. Competitions will be held at the Township Auditorium.