A Peek into My Family Life
Meet me: Mackenzie Warren. But I like to go by Mack for short, which inspired the name Mack’s School Prep (MSP). Three descriptors that encompass the essence of who I am are service-oriented leader, action-oriented hard worker, and growth-oriented learner. At my core, I have a profound love of people, more specifically spending quality time with them and learning from them. My family is a defining part of my identity, and I owe so much of my success to the love and support of my mom, dad, little brother, and big sister. I am also a proud "cat mom" of my cute orange tabby named Toby.
Who am I?
I was born and raised in Houston, Texas. I graduated from Carnegie Vanguard High School (a top-ranking public high school in Houston) in June 2019 at 16-years-old as the student with the second highest GPA in my Class. I now call Durham, North Carolina my new home, since I am a proud Blue Devil of Duke University's Class of 2024. Although I was originally accepted to Duke as a member of the Class of 2023, I deferred my admission and took a Gap Year as part of the Duke Gap Year Program before starting my freshman year at Duke in August 2020.
My Gap Year
In addition to founding and developing Mack’s School Prep, I spent my Gap Year interning at law firms like Norton Rose Fulbright and Horne Rota Moos, providing administrative help for the United States Senate Political Campaign of Harvard-trained lawyer Amanda Edwards, and doing environmental conservation volunteer work in the Santa Teresa area of Costa Rica from early January 2020 to mid-march 2020.
More Special Volunteer Experiences
My Gap Year wasn't my first time volunteering in Latin America. In the summer of 2017, I spent four weeks living and working in San Rafael, Costa Rica. I also spent six weeks in El Calabacito, Panama during the summer of 2018. During both of those experiences, I was really pushed out of my comfort zone in that I lived out of a backpack, slept on a cot, solely commuted by foot, took ice-cold showers, didn't have any AC, and battled relentless mosquitoes. Despite these conditions, I am grateful to have had the wonderful opportunity to befriend and do collaborative community projects with people from various walks of life. This appreciation of diversity profoundly translates over to my work with MSP.
My Passion for Education
The genesis of MSP can be primarily traced to the premium that my parents have always placed on education. In my household, academics come first, trumping both socializing and extracurricular obligations. Because school has always been important to me, I took pride in being an involved student of my high school community; click here to see my full high school resume. Admittedly, however, my high school experience, especially my freshman year, was replete with its fair share of trials and tribulations.
More specifically, 9th-grade me had the hardest time establishing her footing, as evidenced by the 73 I still had in pre-AP biology two-thirds of the way into the first grading cycle and three weeks out from Cycle 1 report cards being sent home. It was only through hard work, grit, and a raw desperation to succeed that I was able to bring that C to a very narrow 90. Not just that, but my devotion to making a comeback from a C also permitted me to uncover the "secret sauce" to academic achievement at my high school, hence enabling my perfect track record of straight A's from freshman year through my senior year. Click here for my high school transcript.
The "Secret Sauce" to Success in School
After having to dig myself out of that abyss in pre-AP biology, it was important to me that I give incoming freshmen after me the recipe for the "secret sauce" to success in school. That way, they could hit the ground running their first year of high school instead of undergoing the grueling transition process that I endured. This incentivized me to spend the summer before my 10-grade year creating an unprecedented academic achievement club called Swimming Downstream (SDS) in order to unveil to ninth-graders the tips, tactics, and skills needed to excel at a rigorous high school (click here to visit the SDS website). For three years, I met with the club members of SDS every other week during lunch time to present on what it takes to make straight As at our high school. Under my leadership, SDS grew from four students its first year to 37 students its second year to over 100 students its third year. To this day, SDS is still alive and in operation thanks to the hard work of my successors!
The Mission of Mack's School Prep
My involvement with SDS intensified my love for being a mentor and coach to others. For me, there's nothing more fulfilling than sharing my knowledge, expertise, and experiences to help someone else navigate a path that I've already traveled. However, the reality of SDS was that I was working with students who had already begun life with a head start—who had already been somewhat exposed to a roadmap for academic success—given that many of them came from higher-income backgrounds with college-educated parents who were deeply committed to school.
This situation with SDS catalyzed my eventual recognition of the "flip side of the coin": There are students in this world who have been involuntarily born into unfortunate circumstances that present barriers to them accessing the resources necessary for their success in the classroom. For this reason, I founded Mack's School Prep; it's through MSP that I serve as a role model who empowers and equips socioeconomically disadvantaged high schoolers to thrive, and not just survive, in school. That way, those students can unlock and maximize their true potential, as well as feel motivated and prepared to pursue a higher education after high school. In other words, by leveraging my blogs and my YouTube videos to provide under-resourced students a step-by-step academic blueprint for how to take advantage of their education, my priority is to set these same students up to better conquer the generational status quo that currently isn’t positioning them to apply to universities, earn a college degree, and open the door to fulfilling job prospects. All in all, through creating and disseminating my educational resources, I want to mentor and support high schoolers who are caught in a self-defeating struggle to get ahead of the curve, so that I can ultimately be a beacon of encouragement who helps them believe in themselves and realize that they—and only they—possess the power to better their futures.