RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Miss Mecklenburg County, McKenzie Faggart, was crowned Miss North Carolina 2016 Saturday night in Raleigh. She'll compete in September at the Miss America pageant.
Sunday morning she talked to ABC11 about her experiences and her preparations for the upcoming pageant as well as the important message she wants to share.
Faggart grew up in Concord and said she's proud to represent the close-knit community. When talking about her family, she said that her mom is nothing like parents on TV shows. Instead, pageants and dance performances are family time and something she does with her mother.
Faggart has a message for young people, especially those who experience bullying, and she said spreading her message is one of the most important reasons for competing.
She said she was bullied during her senior year in high school after she was named Miss North Carolina's Outstanding Teen. She explained she wants to be a voice for others, and wants to remind young people that there is always a bigger and better plan.
"This is not ever the end of the road. You can still be successful. You can still turn it around," she said.
For her, preparing for Miss North Carolina helped boost her self-esteem despite others saying pageants lower it for some girls.
She said she wants to shed light on the issue of bullying and people lowering their self-worth because so many people go through it every day.
As far as preparing for Miss America, Faggart said it's a lot different than other pageants.
"The most important type of preparation you can do walking into Miss America is your emotional and mental prep," she explained. "[It's] saying 'This is what I have to do and this is who I have to be, I still have to be McKenzie,' and that's important."
Faggart is a student at UNC Charlotte. Her talent at the Miss North Carolina pageant was a lyrical dance to "Rise Up."