RIT/NTID Diversity Spotlight

Full name of the subject of the spotlight.

[ID: RIT National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Office of Diversity and Inclusion. AAPI Month Spotlight. Background is a gradient of pink to orange. Pictured in a pink circle is Kaylee Willard, an Asian woman with black and purple chest-length straight hair. “I appreciate that we’re able to connect with like-minded people at NTID as well as learn more about other cultures." - Kaylee Willard '22. Accounting Technology AAS." Multiple white circles of different opacities are posted throughout the image.]

Kaylee Willard '22

(She/Her/Hers)

Accounting Technology AAS

RIT/NTID

What is your ethnicity? Give me a background on where you’ve been.
Born in China, but I was adopted. Nine years ago, I moved to the USA.

What does AAPI Heritage Month mean to you?
It encourages people to feel involved in the Asian community and be more involved. It allows us to dive into how everyone socializes and gives us more opportunities to gather.
Name someone who inspires you and why?
 Youn Yuh-jung inspires me because she taught me that nothing happens overnight. She recently won an award and was photographed with Troy Kotsur. She was finally rewarded for her hard work and I think having people like me looking up to her is beautiful. It allows us to feel empowered and believe that we’re capable of being in the same shoes someday.
My parents are also my heroes.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?
I’m proud of transitioning into a new home after nine years in China. My adopted family gave me an opportunity to grow and succeed in life, and here I am—soon to graduate. I wasn’t very happy or understanding of the world around me when I was in China, but when I moved here and experienced positive change, it felt good. My parents encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone and mingle. They inspired me to be better and do better. I was able to interact with deaf individuals and I felt connected to my surroundings. That’s something that I’m very proud of.

What can the world do to better support the development and enrichment of the AAPI community?
There needs to be more exposure of minority cultures in general. I think providing opportunities for us to open doors is necessary. We need a lot more people of color in greater positions, in general.

What is your favorite cultural dish?
There are too many to name! I love them all. Rice ball soup is my favorite meal. It’s a long process to make. There are black seeds made with it. It can take up to an hour. It’s so good!

How has RIT/NTID aided you in your professional or academic journey?
I’m a part of Asian Deaf Club. I appreciate that we’re able to connect with like-minded people at NTID as well as learn more about other cultures. I recently attended ADC’s Banquet and it was an enjoyable experience.  I’ve been here for three years and I will graduate soon. I appreciate NTID’s efforts in supporting students in finding co-ops opportunities and jobs. I’ll be taking advantage of NCC soon.

Share a fun fact about yourself.
I love to travel. People find it interesting that I always choose sushi first! I grew up eating it and I still eat it now.