It's been an exciting year for Mackenzie Ross - but her adventures are far from over.
Ross, 19, was crowned Miss Brainerd last summer. A month later, she learned she was accepted as one of 100 White House interns for fall semester.
Ross took fall semester off from Central Lakes College and headed east to Washington over Labor Day weekend, where she lived and worked in the unpaid White House internship position for three months. She returned home to Brainerd in mid-December.
"All in all, it was a great experience," Ross said. "I feel I grew a lot being out there as well."
It's been a whirlwind year for Mackenzie Ross, who was crowned Miss Brainerd last summer then spent the fall as a White House intern. Ross is preparing to compete in the Miss Minnesota Scholarship Pageant next summer, as well as finish her degree at Central Lakes College. Brainerd Dispatch/ Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Ross's platform as Miss Brainerd has been to get young adults involved in the voting process. She has always been interested in politics. Her father, Dick Ross, is the former Crow Wing County Sheriff. She learned about the White House internship application process through an e-mail from the CLC College Republicans and decided to apply.
Ross worked in the gift office in the Office of Presidential Correspondence, about a block from the White House. Every gift given to the President and First Lady is first inspected by the FBI and Secret Service and then sent to the gift office, where the item is logged into a computer. If the president or first lady wanted to see the gifts, Ross would bring them to the White House. She ran errands to the White House at least once a week, she said.
Miss Brainerd Mackenzie Ross posed for a photograph with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich at the White House. Ross, a Central Lakes College student, recently returned from serving a three-month internship at the White House.
"The foreign gifts were amazing," Ross said. The president mostly received books, she said. When a soldier sent a gift to the president, the gift was given top priority, Ross said.
Ross saw the president and first lady several times while working at the White House, and during her last two weeks, she worked at two White House Christmas parties. She said it was exciting to be in D.C. during an election year. She attended a White House press briefing and rubbed shoulders with many influential politicians. She even petted the Bushes' family dogs, Barney and Miss Beazley, on several occasions.
Mackenzie Ross stood in front of the Marine One helicopter at the White House. Ross, 19, served as a White House intern during fall semester, taking a leave from Central Lakes College, where she is attending school.
"They're amazing, honestly," Ross said of the president and first lady. "And I now have a new appreciation for everyone who works in the White House and the jobs they do."
Naturally, Ross had to deal with many White House intern jokes from family and friends when she told people she was going to be an intern. They told her "Don't be a Monica," referring to the infamous former White House intern.
"I would say, 'Don't worry, I'm not going to be,'" Ross said she would tell them. "This president is married and has morals."
Miss Brainerd Mackenzie Ross stooped down to pet Barney and Miss Beazley, the Bush family dogs, at the White House. Ross, 19, spent three months as a White House intern.
Ross will graduate this spring from CLC and transfer to the University of Minnesota in Duluth or Minnesota State University Mankato and major in political science. She plans to spend the next several months preparing to compete in the Miss Minnesota Scholarship Pageant this summer, as well as preparing for the 2007 Miss Brainerd Lakes Scholarship Pageant in June, where she will crown the next Miss Brainerd. Now that she's back from Washington, she's also been giving speeches at area service organizations.
Ross said she was sad to leave Washington when her internship was over, but hopes to return someday.
Mackenzie Ross, her parents, Renee and Dick Ross, and brother, Douglas Ross, toured the West Wing of the White House, a perk of Mackenzie's position as a White House intern.
"It's really weird to watch the White House on television and realize I was there," she said.
JODIE TWEED can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5858.
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