Student Speaker

Mackenzie Burnett

From building her own major to spearheading a significant entrepreneurship effort on campus, Mackenzie Burnett has forged a path of independence and creativity throughout her four years in College Park.

Burnett, who is graduating with bachelor’s degrees in international relations and government and politics, was the executive director of Startup Shell, a thriving student-run incubator and coworking space for student companies on campus. She also co-founded and directed sponsorship and finance for Bitcamp, a national hackathon that brings thousands of students to campus each April to build software and hardware projects together.

“She offers an example of the need to be flexible, diverse in one’s talents and passions, and proactive in getting things done,” says Joan Burton, director of the individual studies program and the Federal and Global Semester programs in Washington, D.C. “When she determined that she could not have the impact she wanted in international relations without a strong set of technology and entrepreneurial skills, she fearlessly sought to correct that.”

Her interest in politics led to notable government experience beyond campus. Burnett was a legislative intern for U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, and, while studying abroad, a correspondence intern for a member of the British House of Commons. She also worked at the U.S. Department of State’s School of Language Studies, helping to develop curriculum on LGBT topics for U.S. diplomats.

“My philosophy is just to open as many doors as possible and choose when the time is right,” she says.

Burnett served on the Governance Board of the Student Government Association and chaired the Dean’s Student Advisory Council for the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, advising the dean on policies regarding undergraduate education, student fees and alumni relations. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Kappa and Golden Key.

Following graduation, Burnett plans to start a software company with fellow Terps in the San Francisco area. She is also deciding whether to enroll in a master’s degree program in data science at Columbia University.

“I want to be at the cutting edge of whatever field I’m in,” she says.
May 21, 2015
Campus-wide Commencement Ceremony, Xfinity Center
8:30 a.m. Doors open
8:45 a.m. Graduates report to Lot 4B by Xfinity Center (no later than)
9:20 a.m. Procession of graduates begins
10:00 a.m. Ceremony begins
May 21 and May 22, 2015
Individual College or School Ceremonies
Various Campus Locations
Area Accommodations and Dining Information