MacKenzie Johnson, a senior at Mead High School, is this year’s Spokane Lilac Festival Association Lilac Queen. In an interview last week, Johnson, 18, looked forward to the busy weeks ahead.
Q. Describe everything on your plate right now.
A. Right now it’s AP (Advanced Placement) testing. Two tests this week. Two next week. I’m also a valedictorian this year. I think we have 27.
These next few weeks with Lilac, it will be public relations stuff, and we’ll also visit a lot of retirement homes, and then festival week will be filled with lunches and dinners.
Q. Do you feel a Lilac queen is still relevant in our culture?
A. I’ve lived here my entire life. I’ve joined different clubs and played sports, but I’ve never really done anything for Spokane. In this position, I’ve been able to give back and visit areas of the city I’ve never been before. I’ve visited retirement homes and have learned how things have changed.
Hearing (residents’) stories, I’m grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been given. Fifty years ago, women didn’t have as many opportunities in the city and being a Lilac queen was a huge accomplishment. The queen still has a big role to play.
Q. What will you do with your Spokane Lilac Festival Association scholarship money?
A. The $3,750 is going straight for college. I’m going to the University of Washington next fall. My goal is to double major in biology and chemistry. I want to be a general surgeon. It’s a long haul to get there and a lot of money. So the scholarship is definitely a bonus, along with all the other experiences and life lessons I’m learning along the way.
Q. In an earlier interview with The Spokesman-Review, you mentioned you wanted to have lunch with Dr. Timothy Icenogle, the heart transplant pioneer in Spokane. What questions would you ask him?
A. What inspired him to be a heart transplant surgeon? What was the hardest thing about medical school? Where would he suggest going to medical school? Can I have a letter of recommendation? What’s the No. 1 tip he would offer to a potential surgeon?
Q. With Kate Middleton getting married, we resurrected some princess energy in our culture. Why is that princess imagery still so powerful?
A. Because it’s a fairy tale. We grow up with Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. It’s a fun, ideal fantasy that we hold onto as part of our childhood.