By Maya Wahl, CAHNRS Academic Programs
Hailing from the small town of Shelton, Wash., Mackenzie Selleg is a shining star within WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. A senior studying human development and criminal justice with a minor in political science and earning a certification in adolescence, Mackenzie has proven her leadership skills while serving her fellow students. She is the 2017 CAHNRS Family and Consumer Scientist.
Four years ago when Mackenzie came to WSU, she was undecided on a major or direction. Her freshman year she took Human Development and Criminal Justice classes, and realized this was her passion.
Growing up with a police officer for a father gave Mackenzie a deep appreciation for law enforcement and criminal justice, but she knew that she wanted to do something different. Human Development and Criminal Justice have created a way for Mackenzie to practice law while understanding the “why” behind people’s actions.
In addition to working hard to maintain outstanding grades, she works as the ASWSU Director of Internal Affairs, serves as a WSU Campus Ambassador, serves on the executive board of her sorority, Pi Beta Phi, and works as an undergraduate research assistant for the Department of Human Development.
During the 2015-2016 school year, she worked on the Rural Food Insecurity project under Dr. Rayna Sage. She created a database of resources for the Partners of Rural Washington that includes all of the national, regional, and state resources and grants for which rural families and communities in Washington state are eligible.
“My time spent working as a research assistant in the human development department taught me about empathy and having a passion for what I am doing, and how these things can lead to making a difference in the lives of others,” she said.
Mackenzie also participated in the WSU Prison Debate Project during the spring of 2016. This experience is especially impactful for her criminal justice pursuits. She traveled to Coyote Ridge Correctional Facility and interacted directly with inmates.
That experience helped her understand controversial topics within the criminal justice system and taught her “how to empathize with individuals who have made poor decisions in the past but are working hard to create a better future,” she said
Growing up in a small town, Mackenzie didn’t expect to find a community like that here at WSU. But as a CAHNRS Coug, she walks to class and always seems to know someone. This has been an integral part of her finding a home within the college as well as at WSU as a whole.
“The opportunities are unlike other colleges,” she says.
Sage, Mackenzie’s research advisor, jumpstarted Mackenzie’s involvement in CAHNRS within Human Development. Since then, Mackenzie hasn’t slowed down.
Mackenzie’s parents push her to do something she loves and to be the best she can be. Her support system doesn’t end with her family. Her best friend, Devin Trubey, has always been supportive of her too. They served as RA’s together and joined the same sorority freshman year. In the four years at WSU, Devin has been a great friend and a source of encouragement. Mackenzie’s ability to shine in a sea of crimson and gray is due to her hard work and dedication, but she acknowledges that it would not be possible without the incredible people that she has behind her every step of the way.
She even has advice for current and future Cougars:
“You don’t have to wait to make a difference. You can start now, here at WSU.”
Upon graduation in May, Mackenzie will go to work as an intern in the Thurston County Prosecutor’s Officer as a member of the Juvenile Trial Team. Next fall she will study family law at the University of Oregon School of Law. She says her dream job would be to serve as a family court judge. She hopes to focus on family relationships, particularly adoption, divorce, custody, and abuse.
CAHNRS is honored to send such an accomplished young woman on, and there is no question that she will flourish in the next chapter of her life.