An 18-year-old NorKam graduate has been crowned Miss Teen BC Interior.
Mackenzie Dexter-Hamar competed in a COVID-19-adapted version of the annual pageant in early July and earned her crown following the presentation of her platform, a swimsuit competition and an evening gown display.
Dexter-Hamar had wanted to compete in the pageant for years, but didn’t feel confident enough to do so before.
Her turn in confidence became a big part of her platform.
“I just wanted to show that if you put yourself out there and go for things you wouldn’t normally go for, you can actually accomplish a lot more than you thought you could,” she told KTW.
Dexter-Hamar said she grew up dealing with mental health issues and was bullied over her looks, but in recent years came to realize confidence in herself.
Mental health awareness is another part of her platform.
“I believe it’s not talked about enough. Especially as a young teen, I didn’t know much about it, and when I started experiencing mental health issues, I felt like I was alone. I felt like something was wrong with me and I believe that no one in this world should have to feel like that,” she said.
Dexter-Hamar said the competition was smaller than usual this year due to the pandemic, with an abbreviated training period, video calls rather than in-person interviews and a much smaller audience for the big event.
Nonetheless, she called it an “amazing experience.”
With the recent spike in cases in nearby Kelowna, Dexter-Hamar is also encouraging her peers to follow public health guidelines to help ease the effects of the pandemic.
“Everyone thinks they can go do whatever because they’ve been stuck inside for a few months, but they don’t understand it’s just going to get worse if we don’t wait out this last little bit,” she said.
Although she said she was “heartbroken” to miss out on a traditional prom due to the pandemic, Dexter-Hamar said her graduation was still a memorable experience.
And it was well-earned. She graduated NorKam with academic and effort honours and also completed the hairdressing trades program — although her career plans don’t include hair.
In the fall, the 18-year-old will begin taking psychology and sociology classes at Thompson Rivers University with the goal of becoming a behavioural analyst, profiling criminals and making it easier to track them down.
She took inspiration for her career goal from her grandfather, who spent his entire life working as a police officer in the province.
But before she dives head first into university, Dexter-Hamar will represent the B.C. Interior at the national level, hoping to become Miss Teenage Canada at the event in Toronto on Aug. 29.
She’ll be in Canada’s largest city for about a week for photo shoots, training and activities with her fellow contestants.