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South Valley Journal

A change of reigns, how 2016 Miss Herriman said the pageant changed her life

Nov 02, 2017 12:21PM ● By Jennifer Gardiner
By Jennifer Gardiner| [email protected]

It has only been a couple of weeks since 2016 Miss Herriman ended her reign, but 20-year-old McKenzie Jensen said the experience has changed her life. 

“I learned so much; it’s hard to explain just how much,” she said. “As a young adult and just starting out in this world, it really helped me to learn about things like time management, being reliable and always being aware of how your actions can affect others.” 

Jensen’s platform is anti-bullying, and she said that it’s a subject that she has had personal experience with. 

“I was bullied a lot when I was younger,” Jensen said. “I wasn’t as quick of a learner as the other kids when it came to understanding things, especially education, I knew I wasn’t like the others. It hurts the things your peers say to you, and I want to show others how bullying isn’t okay.”

Jensen is thankful for the opportunity she was given to serve her community and the chance to help make the world a better place. Becoming Miss Herriman was more than she imagined it would be. 

“It is not about the crown; that is simply a symbol that sits on top of your head,” said Jensen. “It is about learning more about yourself, seeking opportunity to learn something new and in return being able to show others what really matters.” 

Jensen’s said she didn’t grow up with the idea that one day she would be a pageant girl. In fact it was the last thing she ever thought she would get involved in. That is until she met the 2013 Miss Herriman Kali Buhler, and it sparked her interest. 

One of the biggest lessons she learned was how not to give up on yourself, that life isn’t easy, but it can be worth it if you are willing to put in the hard work.

“The first year I competed to be Miss Herriman, I was a senior in high school, and I didn’t win,” Jensen said. “But when I look back on it, I really wasn’t ready, and I wasn’t dedicated enough to put in all the time and energy that it takes to have such an important role.” 

Knowing that she needed to be fully committed to the title and all the responsibility that comes with it, she decided to try the pageant one more time; however, this time she says what helped was taking a look at herself and where she wanted to go in her future. 

“I went to my parents, who are incredibly supportive, and told them I wanted to run again,” Jensen said. “They basically told me OK and didn’t question it. It has been such a great thing to have such an amazing support system and people who really believe in you.”

Jensen was raised in Utah by her parents, Cory and Michelle Jensen. She has one sister, Cassidy, who is 15, and her brother, Cutter, is 12. Her family moved to Herriman when she was 1, so it was fitting that she ended up representing the city that she loves and knows so much about. She graduated from Herriman High and currently attends Utah Valley University where she is studying to be a teacher, something she said she has always wanted to be.

“I want to be a fifth-grade teacher for a few reasons but mainly because I remember when I was in the fifth grade and really struggled,” she said. “My teacher was such an important part of getting through the tough times. My teacher took the time to tell me that I was important and a good person and worthy of being me. It left such an impression on me, and it’s really that age where you are trying to identify more about who you are.” 

When asked about advice she has for the new Miss Herriman, she said it’s important to always remember who you are and to commit yourself to being involved. 

“This is a sisterhood; we are all bonded by the same idea that we want to help each other and that becoming a pageant girl means so much more than what others think,” Jensen said. “Be ready for a rollercoaster of opportunities that Herriman has to offer, enjoy the ride and serve and love the community with all your heart. Be ready for change.”