A Conversation with Mackenzie Kulsrud: Striving to Support Underserved Communities & Improve Healthcare

Mackenzie Kulsrud

Year: Senior 

Major: Nursing (midwifery focus)


As both an aspiring nurse-midwife and president of Community Health Outreach, Mackenzie is admirably ambitious. A short conversation with Mackenzie gave me insight into her involvement with countless volunteer projects, career development, and the difference she has made in underserved communities. Today, she strives for the brighter future of healthcare.

Ever since high school, she knew she wanted to be a nurse. From countless hours studying anatomy and physiology textbooks to the attraction she felt towards healthcare, she knew that nursing would be the only career for her. Shortly after her freshman year at UW, she worked as a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) and became enchanted with the special connection between nurses and patients. She loved the role that nurses play in the healing process, and intimate relationships nurses are able to build with their patients. As a current undergraduate at UW, Mackenzie plans to earn her doctorate in the future and practice as a nurse-midwife.

Towards the end of her freshman year, Mackenzie became involved with a new student-run club on campus: Community Health Outreach. Hoping to find like-minded students with a focus in pre-health studies who were willing to volunteer together, she and her friends founded CHO. After her initial role as Director of Volunteer Opportunities and helping CHO become an official RSO at UW, she became president and has continued to serve as an admirable role model to younger students and a dedicated volunteer. CHO, which aligns closely with Mackenzie's values, focuses on “providing pre-health students with volunteer opportunities on and off the UW campus. We aim to inspire and connect students by serving underrepresented communities and making an impact on community health.” They strive to advocate for underrepresented communities and improve community health.

Since transitioning to online courses and activities, Mackenzie says that her role as president has taken an unexpected turn as she navigates technialities of online events and turns to creative solutions for online club meetings, volunteer opportunities, and more.

In addition to Community Health Outreach, Mackenzie is also an active member of the School of Nursing Diversity Awareness Group, which aims to share opportunities to high school students who may have limited resources and face barriers to volunteer and academic development. They offer week-long camps in the summer that help educate students about the nursing profession and develop a variety of skills. She particularly enjoys the focus that the club has on educating others about Social Determinants of Health and promoting the well-being of all people.

Over the years, Mackenzie’s passion for serving communities in need has grown tremendously. Here at the University of Washington, it is easier to meet like-minded people with common goals. Through her involvement in both CHO and SoN DAwGs and off-campus volunteering, she has realized her passion for helping those who need it the most and the disparities that many groups of people face on a daily basis. In terms of childbirth, many statistics are staggering. For example, black women are 3x more likely to die during childbirth than white women. There are huge disparities between black mothers/mothers-to-be and their white counterparts, which Mackenzie hopes to address and decrease throughout her nursing career. Many of these experiences have influenced her desire to help pregnant women, as well as led her to focus on midwifery and strive to be an advocate for expecting mothers.

For students who want to serve their community and those around them, Mackenzie advises researching clubs with mission statements that seem to match their personal values, and reach out to them. Something to keep in mind: people can and will make a difference. She notes that it is easy to become discouraged and feel like what you're doing isn't enough. However, remember that everything takes time, and no great change will come overnight. Small acts of kindness go a long way,

In the future, Mackenzie hopes to see the American healthcare system change for the better, and promote the health of all people, regardless of their socioeconomic status. She would like to see an increase in accessibility and inclusivity across healthcare systems. Mackenzie emphasizes the importance of preventative and primary care, and the increased need for this care, as chronic conditions become more common in the United States.

If Mackenzie's values and goals resonate with you, consider becoming a member of Community Health Outreach and creating a better, healthier future for people everywhere.