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Mack’s School Prep – Mackenzie

By: Leslie

Today, I’m going to tell you about a personal project that I’ve dedicated my Gap Year to: Mack’s School Prep (MSP). MSP is the academic nonprofit I founded in July of this year with the mission of equipping under-resourced and economically disadvantaged high schoolers with all the necessary skills, knowledge, and tools—an extensive roadmap or blueprint if you will—to take advantage of their education. To accomplish this mission, I primarily leverage two media platforms that I developed from scratch: my YouTube Channel called “Mack’s School Prep TV” and my website

On my YouTube Channel, you’ll find videos upon videos that are rich in information and content, as I take pride in exhausting all there is to know about many vital study strategies that even high-achieving students sometimes take for granted: the secret to time management, the key to creating a homework and study schedule, the art of studying and note-taking, the importance of preparation before class, and the trick to navigating the college and scholarship application processes (including how to ace standardized tests like the SAT and ACT). Additionally, supplemental blogs that accompany some of YouTube videos can be found on my website. I believe with every fiber of my being that the students committed to MSP are guaranteed to see an improvement in their academic trajectory as long as they hold up their end of our figurative social contract by implementing the universal principles and techniques that I’m sharing. Although it has taken an immense amount of work on my part for MSP to gain traction these past several months, all my efforts truly have been rewarded. Not only have I received recognition for my work from sources like the Houston Chronicle (read this article I was featured in!), but I’m also filled with an unparalleled feeling of purpose and passion whenever I’m interacting with overlooked and underserved student populations who identify the value in what I’m doing with MSP.


What’s the inspiration for founding MSP, you’re most likely wondering? When I first began high school at Carnegie Vanguard HS as a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed freshman at the naive age of 12-years-old, I had no idea what I’d be in for. It unexpectedly took me an entire fourth of the school year to gain my bearings and acclimate to my new environment that was nothing short of rigorous and demanding. However, after a long year of trials and errors in which I had to pull myself up by the bootstraps, I was confident that I had finally mastered what it took to excel both academically and socially at Carnegie. For this reason, the summer before my sophomore year, I was motivated to found an academic achievement club called Swimming Downstream (SDS) that allowed me to invest in the success of future generations of freshmen by contributing a resource that would shorten their learning curve. Admittedly, running SDS for three years gave me the opportunity to be a first-hand witness of the reality that some students begin the race of life with a head start simply due to coming from higher-income backgrounds and having two very involved parents.


What ended up dawning on me was that there are plenty of students in society who aspire to put their best foot forward in the classroom but genuinely need some guidance and direction to help them do so. Out of a desire to do everything in my power to personally address this need, MSP was born because in my heart of hearts, I believe that every individual—regardless of their race, gender, socioeconomic status, etc.—deserves an equal shot at success.

Because I completely understand that no two people start life in the same place, it’s through MSP that I want to be a mentor and support system for the students who are involuntarily born into circumstances that present enormous barriers to their educational and professional goals. It’s through MSP that I want to be a role model for the students who desperately need someone to be a beacon of empowerment and inspiration who gives them the encouragement they need to believe in themselves, identify their internal leaders, and recognize that they and only they hold the key to changing the course of their futures. Since education has the power to even the playing field between those students who get that lucky head start and those students who are behind the eight ball, my outreach efforts to spread the word about MSP have been focused on convincing administrators and students at Title 1 High School campuses in the Houston metropolitan area to join me in my movement for promoting the merit of education so that under-resourced students can break free from the status quo dictating their lives and hindering their success.

Every week since I founded MSP in July has been devoted to producing content for my YouTube Channel and partnering with Title 1 High Schools as well as various education and college readiness programs whose mission statements align with that of MSP. I have been invited to lead academic workshops for students at several campuses and have also gotten many opportunities to give presentations to large audiences of students, parents, and school officials (click here to see a recent speech I gave). While I certainly haven’t been cruising on easy street in my pursuit to get MSP in front of the high schoolers who need it most—as I have encountered my fair share of adults who don’t follow through on their word and who don’t seem to have their students’ best interest at heart—the sizeable amount of rejection I have endured and overcome has only strengthened my perseverance and given me more incentive to be the squeaky wheel and never give up on the people I care about!