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Mackenzie Bart: Competing for Miss America a moment that I’m never going to forget

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Miss Ohio Mackenzie Bart competed for Miss America on Sept. 14. Although she did not take the crown, Bart was a top 10 finalist.  Credit: Courtesy of Jay Jesensky

Miss Ohio Mackenzie Bart competed for Miss America on Sept. 14. Although she did not take the crown, Bart was a top 10 finalist.
Credit: Courtesy of Jay Jesensky

Though the crown might not lay on her head, Miss Ohio left the 2015 Miss America Competition with more opportunities to expand her mind.

Ohio State student Mackenzie Bart competed Sunday night in a nationally televised competition and received a $10,000 scholarship from Miss Ohio and $14,000 in scholarships from Miss America from the experience.

“It’s a moment that I’m never going to forget,” Bart told The Lantern on Monday.

Bart, a 22-year-old first-generation college student, began competing in pageants in order to pay for her education.

She was crowned Miss Ohio on June 21 and received $10,000 in scholarships from the Miss Ohio pageant.

On Sunday night, Bart and 52 other women headed to Atlantic City, N.J., to compete for the Miss America crown. Throughout the week, the 53 contestants were split into three smaller groups for preliminary competitions, said Jay Jesensky, executive director of the Miss Ohio Scholarship Program.

“Each group has a talent and swimsuit winner. Mackenzie won the talent in her group of over 17 contestants,” Jesensky said in an email.

Bart’s talent was a ventriloquism act with her puppet Roxy. The two performed a duet to “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” She said she became interested in ventriloquism at a young age after watching a show called “Lamb Chop’s Play-Along,” which featured actress Shari Lewis and her lamb puppet.

“I loved that show. I used to watch it for hours, even to the point where I’d take a dirty sock off my foot and draw eyes on it and use it as a puppet,” Bart said in an interview with The Lantern last month.

Her success in the preliminary competition put her into the final 10 on the Miss America stage where she was able to perform with Roxy on live television.

Bart also had the opportunity to meet Vonda Van Dyke, the only Miss America to win with ventriloquism as her talent. Van Dyke was crowned Miss America in 1965.

“It was so cool to meet with her because you got to see how ventriloquism has changed throughout the years,” Bart said.

Bart’s talent has been recognized, not only by the Miss America judges, but also by various media outlets. She was featured in an article with People Magazine earlier this week and was also asked to be a guest on the “Today” show airing Tuesday at 9 a.m.

“We’re pairing up with Al Roker to do the weather,” Bart, an atmospheric science major, said of her and her puppet Roxy.

The opportunity fufills one of Bart’s career goals — while performing her talent during Sunday night’s competition, Bart’s fun fact read “Wants to take Al Roker’s job.”

Bart was also recognized for her involvement in the STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math, program. She was one of five contestants to receive a $5,000 STEM scholarship, which was announced live during the competition.

“It honestly is amazing just because I’ve been so actively involved in STEM,” she said.

Additionally, Bart won a $2,000 scholarship from Miss America for winning the preliminary talent award and $7,000 for being a top 10 finalist.

Although Bart was cut from the competition after making it into the top 10, she said she is happy with the results.

“I actually stayed in the same hotel as Miss New York, who won Miss America, and she’s such a sweet girl. We were able to become good friends throughout the whole process, and I think she’s an amazing representative, down-to-earth, and really the girl-next-door,” Bart said.

She said the experience of competing in the Miss America pageant has left her with much to look forward to. She plans to use the scholarship money she was awarded to finish her senior year and then eventually to begin her master’s degree in atmospheric science.

“Walking away from Miss America, I’ve had so many opportunities scholarship-wise and now just to benefit me for my future,” Bart said.

Bart’s friend, Gabby Bailey, a third-year in dance at OSU, said she is proud of Bart no matter what crown she wears.

“She will forever be my Miss America,” Bailey said in an email.

Though Bart was not crowned Miss America, she will continue to fulfill her duties and public appearances as Miss Ohio 2015 until June 21.

Elizabeth Tzagournis contributed to this story.

Correction: A prior version of this article stated that Mackenzie Bart received a $5,000 scholarship from her experience competing for Miss America. In fact, she won $14,000 in scholarships from her experience competing for Miss America.  

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