Miss Teen Austin ready to shine

Published 7:59 am Thursday, March 10, 2011

It’s a lot harder to be in a pageant than people think.

There’s the dresses to find, the shoes, the speeches to prepare, plus there’s getting “the walk” down pat. It’s a lot more difficult than it reads in a newspaper.

McKenzie Beckel, 13, will compete in the Miss Teen Minnesota Pageant this weekend. - Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Yet 13-year-old McKenzie Beckel has navigated the twists and turns of pageant competition and has become Miss Teen Austin 2011. Beckel will compete against 15 other teens for the chance to become Miss Teen Minnesota at the 2011 Minnesota International Pageant this weekend in St. Cloud.

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“I’m really excited and nervous,” Beckel said. “It’s a little nerve-wracking.”

Beckel, who’s performed with local dance studios for several years now, is no stranger to the stage, although she’s never competed in a pageant before. She’s been interested, but according to her mom Jennifer it “just wasn’t the right time,” until last Summer, when Jennifer saw an ad for the Miss Teen Austin competition.

The Beckels sent in an application for Miss Teen Austin, and to McKenzie’s delight she was picked. McKenzie had plenty of work to do before she could compete, however. She’s picked up dresses and gowns for the fashion, evening wear and aerobic wear portion of the competition, as well as practiced her strut on the proverbial catwalk.

“It’s not that hard,” McKenzie said. “It’s hard to walk in heels if you’re not used to it, but I’m used to it.”

McKenzie’s volunteered at several organizations, including the Austin Jaycees, Go Red For Women, and Our House Senior Living, as well, in preparation for the pageant and to fulfill competition requirements.

She’ll also have to sit through personal and on-stage interviews with the judges and give a speech on an issue she’s passionate about. McKenzie chose child abuse as her personal platform, as she’s known several people who’ve experienced it before.

If McKenzie wins, she’ll join Mrs. Minnesota and Miss Minnesota to volunteer and raise awareness about social issues around the state, and possibly gain college scholarships. Yet it’s the work she’s put in volunteering and working towards a goal that her mother is most excited about.

“It’s good for her to go out into the community,” Jennifer said. “It’s a good experience for her. It teaches her to help others and not expect anything in return.”