Kelsey Taylor is a fourth-year photography major who is also studying American Sign Language as a minor. This summer, the Glens Falls, N.Y., native will be riding her bike more than 4,000 miles across the country, along with fellow RIT student Max McMahon, to raise money for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. Currently, they have raised more than $13,000 for the organization. Taylor is also the president of Silver Wings, a professional organization on campus, and used to play Ultimate Frisbee.
Question: What brought you to RIT?
Answer: I was looking for photography schools in the Northeast, and after applying to a handful, RIT was in my top two. I chose it for its proximity to home, the photographic resources and the program’s reputation.
Q: Why did you decide to study photography?
A: My father was a professional photographer. He owned his own company and traveled to photograph for a variety of clients. Growing up, I would visit his studio, watch him work and hang out with him in the darkroom. I have been taking photographs my entire life and learned how to develop film on my own before I was even old enough to walk to the store alone.
Q: What have been some of your favorite memories from your time here?
A: My favorite memories would have to include FreezeFest, going to the hockey games and being able to witness what may have been the only snow day in RIT history.
Q: What is the 4K for Cancer?
A: 4K for Cancer is a program each summer where young adults from around the country come together as a team to cycle from Baltimore to the pacific coast over 70 days to raise money for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. Ulman is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to enhancing the lives of those affected by cancer. During the trip we will be stopping at community centers and hospitals along the way to visit patients and do community service.
Q: Why did you get involved with this event?
A: I had wanted to find a great way to spend my summer after graduation. I had known someone from Clarkson who did this trip last year and decided to look into it. Unfortunately, as most of us have, I have known many individuals affected by cancer. After researching more about the organization, its history and the program as a whole, I fell in love with it. Nothing was going to stop me from doing it.
Q: How have you been preparing for the bike ride?
A: There are two different types of preparation that I’ve had to do, physical training and fundraising, both of which have been relatively smooth for me so far. For training, I was stuck indoors for the entirety of the winter so I am very relieved to finally be able to go outside to train! As far as fundraising, I wrote hundreds of letters for donations, had a bake sale, did a few small events and had a big fundraiser in my hometown with live entertainment, raffles and a silent auction.
Q: What are you hoping to take away from this experience?
A: In addition to seeing the country, I’m looking forward to working as a team with a common goal. I’m also looking forward to meeting people along the way and hearing their stories, as well as sharing my own. I hope to take away a sense of community, accomplishment and a feeling that I’ve made some sort of impact in the fight against cancer.
Q: What are your plans for after graduation?
A: I am applying to graduate school for education. I would love to teach or work with non-profits.
For more information on Kelsey’s cross-country trip, visit her 4K for Cancer page.