Mackenzie Wrench – HHP Student Profile

Meet Mackenzie, an HHP Student who is using her own experiences to help change the stigma around eating disorders.

What is your major?

I am a Public Health/Pre-Med major.

What are some of your hobbies and interests?

In my free time, I love spending time with my dog, Cash, volunteering, and teaching children how to dance.

What sparked your involvement with the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)? 

I became involved with NEDA after I was diagnosed and treated for an eating disorder. Going through the journey of being diagnosed and going through treatment, I realized how big of a problem the stigma and policy around eating disorders were. Seeing this made me have a growing passion to be the change I want to see in the world. As a matter of fact, it was what helped me choose my career path as I hope to open a Pediatric treatment facility of my own on the East Coast of North Carolina . Treatment facilities for eating disorders are few and far between other than Durham; the next closest one is in Florida or Colorado.

What are your goals regarding your involvement with NEDA? What can ECU students, faculty, and alumni do to help your efforts? 

My goals are to make a difference in what people think of eating disorders. Eating disorders are truly becoming an epidemic and because of the lack of knowledge, people either do not know they have one or simply are afraid to seek help due to the stigma around them. Also, I am hoping to change the policy around this, insurance will not pay until you meet a certain set of guidelines, thus making it hard for people to even receive treatment once they decide they want to seek help from this illness. Or once they are accepted into treatment, insurance will only approve a certain number of days for treatment to be given in the facility. Not everyone reaches a level of stability to be discharged within this amount of time and families are forced to make hard decisions in regards to the care of their loved one. I would love to have more events on campus directly from my nonprofit such as a Scale Smash and a Miss All Natural Pageant to raise awareness within our ECU and Greenville community. Everyone can help by expressing interest to me at so that I can know if there is enough interest before trying to book a venue on campus and host an event.

What advice do you have for students who are interested in your field and want to become involved? 

My advice is to make sure you have a burning passion for this field. Most of the time, these individuals are in critical condition by the time they would get to you and they are in the darkest place of their life. When talking to nurses, therapist, and dieticians that have tried to work with Pediatric Eating Disorders, in particular, burnout is the number one thing I hear due to them seeing so much grief and sadness. You have to have a passion to make a difference and make a change in the world of eating disorders in order to avoid this I personally believe.

How do you think this creation of the non-profit process has affected your career path(s)?

This nonprofit has made the fire burning inside me to make a change that much stronger. I want to help children who are fighting what I have fought as well as help their families. The passion I have for this makes all the tireless work I put in worth it. My goals and dreams for where I want to take this may still be a little far away but with this nonprofit, I feel they are within reach and that anything is possible.