Chenae Laldee is a fourth-year multidisciplinary studies major focusing on organizational change and leadership with a concentration in human resources and political science. She was recently crowned Miss Black Deaf America, a position she will hold until August 2015. Laldee competed in the pageant, which consists of platform, talent, style and interview portions, last August. During her time at RIT, Laldee has been involved in the RIT/NTID Ebony club and the RIT/NTID Caribbean Deaf club and is a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success.
Question: Where are you from?
Answer: I am from Olney, Md.
Q: What has been your favorite experience at RIT?
A: The Summer Vestibule Program was one of my favorite experiences at RIT. It provided early academic guidance, a chance to explore the campus and its surroundings and networking opportunities with people on campus.
Q: What is the Miss Black Deaf America Pageant?
A: Miss Black Deaf America is a National Black Deaf Advocates program that allows young, black deaf and hard-of-hearing women to participate in a competition that focuses on their platform (cause), talent, style and two interview performances. The pageant strongly encourages personal and professional growth, provides educational and leadership opportunities and helps mold future role models for the black deaf community.
Q: What made you decide to enter the pageant?
A: A few years ago, I served as a volunteer peer advisor for National Black Deaf Advocates’ Youth Empowerment Summit. As I learned more about the progress and continued struggles of the black deaf community, I was inspired by those who continue to fight for equality. The pageant provides a unique opportunity to represent and serve the black deaf community in the quest for social equality and economic success for all members of our community.
Q: How did you prepare for the competition?
A: I learned more about black deaf history, healthy lifestyles and focused on inner beauty. I also wrote a poem in collaboration with a family friend with the goal of inspiring others to higher achievement. I was determined to just have fun with the pageant.
Q: What was it like to be crowned the winner?
A: That moment remains indescribable. Honestly, I still cannot believe that I am actually Miss Black Deaf America. I am humbled by the honor and responsibility of the title.
Q: What duties will you have as Miss Black Deaf America?
A: The pageant is not all about the beauty. My role and responsibilities include appearances at a multitude of events, raising awareness for the black deaf community and the Black Deaf Advocates organization, promoting social equality and economic success for all members of the black deaf community and serving as a role model for future generations.
Q: What message do you hope to spread during your time in this role?
A: I hope to impart a sense of unity, diversity and community. It is important for members of the black deaf community to support each other. In addition to strengthening the black deaf community, I also want to help the community embrace people from different backgrounds and help them realize that we are more alike than we are different.
Q: What do you plan to do after graduation?
A: In addition to focusing on my pageant duties, I plan to travel, work, continue my education and live life to the fullest.