A passion for politics — McKenzie MacDonald begins working toward school year goals


When she was younger, McKenzie MacDonald, UI’s new ASUI president, changed her mind about her future quite often.

At first she wanted to become a princess. Then, when she realized becoming a princess was slightly out of reach, she wanted to become a veterinarian. But then, MacDonald watched as a veterinarian treated her childhood pony, and she abandoned that hope.

Finally, during her time in middle school, MacDonald began watching “Law and Order” episodes with her mother, sparking her newfound desire and interest to pursue law.

“I started to think that being a lawyer might be fun,” MacDonald said. “By the time I started high school, my friends started calling me — affectionately, I think  — kid lawyer.”

Now, MacDonald, a political science and economics major, said she chose her educational course because she hopes to attend law school after graduating. By adding an economics degree to her major, MacDonald said she better understands policy, and finds that both fields compliment each other well.

“It started as a means to an end, but p politics and public policy have become a true passion of mine,” MacDonald said.

MacDonald, 21, was named ASUI president along with her running mate, Catherine Yenne as vice president for the 2017-2018 academic year in April.

Yenne said together they have built great relationships within ASUI. She said they both cared deeply for UI students and are committed to making changes through student engagement and university policy.

MacDonald has previously served on ASUI as a senator and as a member of the ASUI Policy Team, eventually becoming ASUI Director of Policy. She said the experience she gained from those positions inspired her own ideas and visions, and that encouraged her to run for ASUI president.

MacDonald said her plans, as president, are to implement more pathways for ASUI to directly engage with students and to promote student mental health and overall wellness. She is dedicated to creating a campus environment where all members of the Vandal family can feel safe and valued.

Yenne said when it comes to policy change, MacDonald conducts thorough research to ensure it’s a well-suited change for students. MacDonald is also good at reaching out to other offices on campus for collaborative opportunities when working on events.

“I feel calm and confident in McKenzie’s ability to lead as ASUI president,” Yenne said. “I do not worry about the future of students or ASUI under McKenzie’s lead.”

Yenne said MacDonald is very open to suggestions and sharing ideas. It is never her way or the high way, Yenne said. She also said MacDonald is hardworking, diligent, smart and kind.

MacDonald said the part she loves most about her position is representing the student voice in university issues and discussing her and Yenne’s vision with the university administration. She enjoys all discussion of policy, she said.

I don’t know if there is necessarily going to be a typical day during my term in office, MacDonald said. Her days would most likely consist of meetings, policy discussions, email correspondence and spending time to accomplish her and Yenne’s goals.

MacDonald has been at UI for three years and she said that her love for the community grows with each passing year.

“I think what I love most about the university is the amount of opportunity students have to grow as people during their time here,” MacDonald said.

MacDonald described herself as being driven and ambitious, especially when it involves ASUI, school and any career-related activities. In less serious settings, she enjoys laughing and having fun.

“I grew up as a Disney kid, so my life motto is from “Finding Nemo” – “just keep swimming,” MacDonald said. “For whatever reason, these three words have gotten me through many stressful or exhausting weeks, months, and years.”

MacDonald is set to graduate in May 2018 and said she has no definitive plans after graduation. She still intends to attend law school, but wants to spend a few years gaining work experience in the political field before law school.

Yenne said everyone can expect great accomplishments from MacDonald in 20 years. She would most probably be involved in economics or politics or both.

“It is hard to imagine what my life will look like 20 years from now, but I hope that by that point I will have a successful career, a family, a German Shepard, and a multitude of memories from time spent travelling,” MacDonald said.

May Ng can be reached at arg-arts@uidaho.edu

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