Friday, May 7, 2021

McKenzie Connelly Visits Section 36!

Photo by Steven Palowsky
Section 36 has another visitor! McKenzie Connelly is passionate about helping the homeless, a talented singer, and the current 
Miss Atchafalaya. I was thrilled that she wanted to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more.

So, let's see what happens when McKenzie Connelly visits Section 36! 

How did you celebrate winning the Miss Atchafalaya crown?

One of the things I love about competing in Louisiana is the immediate sisterhood. Right after crowning, all of the contestants and the visiting queens went to Cracker Barrel to celebrate, and get to know each other better if we didn’t know each other already, as a sort of “welcome to the sisterhood” dinner. 

What part of the upcoming Miss Louisiana competition are you most nervous about? 

I’m the sort of person who isn’t super nervous about thingsuntil I have arrived and it’s finally happening. I’d say right I’m confident in what I have been working on for the past two years and I’m just ready for it to finally be competition week! 

Is there a specific goal you’d like to accomplish during your time as Miss Atchafalaya?

I really accomplished everything I wanted to during my reign as Miss Atchafalaya - making better connections with homeless charities in south Louisiana, working closer with CMNH through Dance Marathon, and creating interesting content that highlights fellow titleholders. I’d say now during my “victory lap” I want to finish the #WomenEmpowermentWednesday highlights for the girls who joined the Miss Louisiana class this year and continue working with those homeless charities as much as I can. 

How did you select your social impact initiative “Heart for H.O.M.E.”?

I’ve actually been working on parts of Heart for H.O.M.E - Homelessness Outreach, Mentorship, and Education, since I was nine years old. I was first exposed to the issue of homelessness through the organization Family Promise for a Gifted & Talented service learning project in the fourth grade. The objective was to find a need in the community and work to assist an organization that helps meet that need. My church had just announced a partnership with Family Promise and I felt like there was no greater need in the community than people living without basic necessities like food, water, and shelter. As a part of my initial service project “Baking A Difference”, I organized a bake sale and helped raise money for the program’s immediate needs going into the holiday season. 

Heart for H.O.M.E. seeks to ameliorate and eradicate the effects of homelessness within our community. Outreach is working directly with local homelessness organizations. Mentorship is mentoring children experiencing homelessness to reach their fullest potential by providing them with the resources they need to thrive despite their current circumstances. Education is educating the public on the realities of homelessness and how they can create positive change in their communities by getting involved and giving back to those who need it most. 

As a talented singer, what do you enjoy most about performing on stage?

I absolutely love the feeling I get when I can step outside of

myself by portraying a character and conveying a story through song. This year I have a very fun and challenging talent, the Queen of the Night Aria from Mozart’s The Magic Flute. While it took me a very long time to get it where it needed to be technically, it is such a fun, dramatic piece. This is one of my favorite pieces I’ve ever performed and I can’t wait to share it with everyone in just a few weeks!

How would you complete the sentence "I get great satisfaction when ___"?

I get great satisfaction when I see the kids I’m working to impact. I recently went to Dance Marathon at LSU’s Big Event and they had several of the miracle kids and families in attendance. Getting to play with and talk to many of the children in attendance made me realize just how much of a difference I can make with my efforts and how the payoff of hard work is so sweet. I haven’t been able to work hands-on with homeless children in a long time because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but I can’t wait to see them all again (hopefully) very soon! 

If you could be a Disney character for a week, who would you choose? Why?

I would choose to be Moana because I love the beach and the ocean and being able to go on a Polynesian adventure to save the ocean sounds like a lot of fun! Fun fact: I actually almost drowned off the coast of New Jersey when I was 6, so I should probably be scared of the water but I still love it! 

You had the opportunity to attend the parade celebrating the Houston Astros World Series championship. What was that experience like?

That was absolutely incredible! My family is full of pretty big baseball fans (we have a fierce Astros v. Yankees rivalry, sorry Sox fans!) so being able to go with them to celebrate a World Series win was probably a once in a lifetime experience for me. The streets were full of people and there was so much joy after the city had been through such hardships with Hurricane Harvey. It was an unforgettable experience and I am so grateful to have been able to go. 

Is there a feature or activity at a baseball game that you’d especially like to experience?

I like the train full of oranges that goes around every time theAstros score a Home Run at Minute Maid and of course the mini helmets full of ice cream! But of course at my home stadium of Alex Box here at LSU, Geaux Tigers!, I love being able to watch a great sport with my best friends and cheer on the Tigers to hopefully another national championship! 


Mini helmets full of ice cream are definitely a must!

As always, I want to thank McKenzie for visiting with us, and for sending along the pictures to go with the interview.

As McKenzie continues her time as Miss Atchafalaya, I encourage you to follow her on her Instagram account. It's a great way to keep track of everything she has going on! 

I also definitely want to wish her the best of luck when she competes for the Miss Louisiana title. It would be wonderful to have the first Section 36 visitor wear that crown!
Thanks again McKenzie, and good luck!

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