BEST and BRIGHTEST: McKenzie-Skinner champions for others

NANAIMO: Jacqueline McKenzie-Skinner is studying war because of her passion for peace.

Jacqueline McKenzie-Skinner

Jacqueline McKenzie-Skinner

Jacqueline McKenzie-Skinner is studying war because of her passion for peace.

The Nanaimo District Secondary School graduate joined the army reserve last March and is spending part of her summer doing basic military training.

“If I want to help end war, then I need to understand it,” said McKenzie-Skinner. “I’m supporting the people it’s supposed to help save. I hope if I participate I can make a positive difference.”

She aspires to work with international organizations – perhaps the United Nations – on human rights issues, especially the fight to end human trafficking. To help her reach this goal, she is enrolled in Vancouver Island University’s global studies program.

McKenzie-Skinner’s passion for human rights issues started after she read about the genocides in Darfur in her early teens, and realized that many people had no idea what was happening.

“It hurt that people didn’t know,” she said.

The reserve kept her busy three days a week her senior year, but McKenzie-Skinner has devoted her passion and energy to numerous other activities.

As student council co-president, she was responsible for overseeing the 50-member group, helping each of the committees develop ideas and making sure events go smoothly.

She was one of the driving forces behind an anti-vandalism initiative started at her school two years ago – dubbed Project Inside Out. McKenzie-Skinner and three other students used a $1,100 grant from the district to create awareness amongst their peers about the damage vandalism causes.

The project included a mural contest, speaking at a school assembly and a survey of the student body.

McKenzie-Skinner also got involved in her home community of Gabriola Island.

Last year, she was president of the Gabriola 4-H Club, a youth organization devoted to engaging youth to reach their fullest potential.

Born and raised on Gabriola, she joined the club, which focuses on agriculture and community service, when she was six.

“The reason we like being in it is we can show the community there’s teenagers who want to help out,” she said.

McKenzie-Skinner enjoyed judging competitions through 4-H – she usually placed in the top six out of roughly 100 competitors in judging everything from cows to tomato plants.

She played softball on an adult team on Gabriola and coached a junior league team on the island for the past three years.

“I prefer to have a lot of things going on,” she said. “It keeps you focused.”

Sue Boulton, a leader with the Gabriola 4-H Club, said McKenzie-Skinner is energetic, enthusiastic and responsible.

“She throws herself into things,” she said.

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