As Ohio State students return for another year, Mackenzie Bart is taking a year off to complete her duties as Miss Ohio 2014.
Bart, a 22-year-old from Brockway, Pa., was crowned Miss Ohio on June 21 after participating in the Miss Ohio Scholarship Program for two years.
The Miss Ohio Scholarship Program is a nonprofit beauty pageant that aims to encourage well-rounded women, according to the program’s website.
Bart was a third-year in atmospheric science at OSU last year. She said she transferred from Capital University after her first-year.
Last year, Bart said she made the top 10 in the Miss Ohio pageant and received $7,000 in scholarships, which she said helped her finance college.
“I’m a first-generation college student, so I was looking for a way to pay for schooling,” Bart said.
This year, Bart was crowned Miss Ohio and received $10,000 in scholarships. She will go on to compete in the Miss America pageant Sept. 14, aired on ABC.
If crowned Miss America, Bart would be awarded $50,000.
Part of getting there, however, requires Bart to promote awareness for certain issues.
One of her platforms is universal newborn screening, which tests newborns for serious conditions and diseases that could go undiagnosed otherwise.
“My younger sister was born with a rare disease. It’s called Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome and her body does not produce cholesterol at all,” Bart said.
She explained that the delay in her sister’s treatment was because her sister was not tested for the disease at birth.
Bart now considers it her job, with or without a crown, to be an advocate for universal newborn screening because she has seen the damage from lack of testing firsthand, she said.
“I want to make sure every state is up to par and testing for all 56 diseases because I’ve seen, not only how my sister has suffered because of it, but how other children are being affected,” Bart said.
Bart’s mother said she was “over the moon” when she learned Bart had selected universal newborn screening as one of her platforms.
“I know that it’s so important to her, that regardless of whether she was in a pageant or not, this was something she felt should be right,” Janice Bart said.
And though Janice Bart had her reservations about pageants, she’s been pleased with how it’s gone, she said.
“I was a bit hesitant when she wanted to get involved years ago because I did not know much about it but this has been such a remarkable journey,” she said.
Mackenzie Bart’s second platform is the promotion of STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math education, in young children.
“It’s making sure that young girls and young boys do have an interest in the four subjects. Growing up not having those role models in my family of parents that went to college, it was something I struggled with. But being able to join classes and being able to be tutored and reaching out and finding different alternatives, it made me stronger,” she said.
Mackenzie Bart was a meteorologist last year for The Lantern Media Group’s student run television station, Lantern TV. She was also featured as a guest meteorologist on WRGT-TV 45 (Fox), a Dayton news station.
With the Miss America pageant only weeks away, Mackenzie Bart admitted that pageant life isn’t all diamonds.
“Doing this is hard because you’re away all the time. You’re on the road, you’re busy doing different appearances and meeting different people,” she said.
Although the travel may be tiring, Mackenzie Bart said she has lots of support from family, friends and the executive director of the Miss Ohio Scholarship Program, Jay Jesensky.
“She exemplifies what the Miss America Organization stands for,” Jesensky said.
Mackenzie Bart said she hopes her fellow Buckeyes will support her and cast their vote in a people’s choice contest.
“We each had to make a video of ourselves, and this year’s theme was ‘selfie.’ I did mine on the Ohio State field and Brutus was there and the (OSU Marching Band) drum major,” she said.
The winner of the People’s Choice contest automatically makes it into the top 15 in the Miss America pageant.
“I know it’s been about 36 years since we’ve had a Miss Ohio that’s been Miss America. So it’s been a long time. We’re ready for Ohio to have the next Miss America,” Mackenzie Bart said.