When someone’s reputation precedes them, it is usually either a really good thing or a really bad thing. And before I even met Mackenzy, I already knew three facts about her — she is intelligent, she is thoughtful, and she is a powerhouse. So safe to say, in this case, I had gotten lucky.
I have the privilege to know Mack, personally and professionally, and it’s very interesting to be both close friend and colleague to someone because you get to see them at their absolute best and their absolute worst. It is these emotional roller coasters that show you who people really are.
And when I am at my worst, Mackenzy is always that friend — the one you call at 10PM to air your frustrations about the big things, the little things, and everything in between. The friend who texts you after a long day to make sure you’ve eaten, and the friend who drops off coffee after a long week to lift you up, even if it’s just a little bit.
It’s because she is a relationship builder. Mackenzy possesses the highly sought after (and extremely unique) ability to make you feel comforted, supported, and heard, no matter how bad things are. And I won’t lie, this has been a difficult year. COVID-19 has transformed the ways that we all live our lives, and personally, I have been impacted by the reports of racism that are rife in our media cycle. As our mental health fluctuates, I am extremely grateful to find comfort in a team member and close friend who is always the first to initiate conversations about how we are all really doing.
And that’s clear in her professional life too, backed up by vast accomplishments that can hardly be contained in a one year term. She has incorporated a not-for-profit organization that represents over 250,000 students across the country, while chairing and uniting a board of nine student unions, all with competing interests, political climates, and student demographics. She has built steadfast relationships with our federal partners, those that are in the room with decision makers, to fight for affordability of post-secondary education — the issue that fueled her passion for advocacy in the first place. The critical mass of these projects is significant as is, let alone during an unprecedented pandemic. So it’s safe to say that I am inspired, empowered, and energized by Mackenzy, every single day.
If you know anything about our relationship, you’d know that we couldn’t be any more different from one another… just ask our team about the dynamic we have during grocery trips on retreat. However, what we do share is a love to compete, which more often than not is seen as a bad thing, especially between women. However, I think that’s actually what makes us better — better teammates, better friends, and better people. It’s our competitive nature that causes us to conflict and compromise and have uncomfortable conversations — the ones that make us understand one another and grow with one another.
It is our competitiveness that makes us absolutely sure that we have each others’ backs, because we are a team, working together toward the exact same goals. And what being on Mack’s team has taught me can be embodied by a quote from feminist icon Shirley Chisholm, “if they don’t give you a seat at the table”, you bulldoze through the door and you “bring a folding chair”.