Kelly Jo Hilleshiem

Kelly Jo Hilleshiem

The NBA Indiana Pacers’ dance team wanted her, but Kelly Jo Hilleshiem, 22, chose RIT/NTID instead.

“I knew getting a college education was the better path for my future,” says Hilleshiem.

Raised in Indiana, Hilleshiem became deaf after getting meningitis at 16 months old and was the only deaf person in school growing up. She was outgoing, a homecoming queen and a cheerleader, but she felt something was missing.

“I wanted to experience being part of a Deaf community, so for my last semester of senior high, I transferred to Indiana School for the Deaf,” says Hilleshiem. “For the first time, I connected with other deaf people my age, so I decided I wanted to continue learning, living and socializing with deaf peers in college.”

At RIT, Hilleshiem is an NTID student ambassador and a member of the Brick City CrossFit Club and Gymnastics Club.

She received an associate degree in administrative support technology and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in marketing with a concentration in public relations. After graduation, Hilleshiem plans to pursue a career in the fashion industry.

“Clothes help me express my personality, and this has played a significant role in my life,” she says.

She has her own fashion blog, developed by fellow RIT/NTID student Patrick Seypura, called, “That’s so Fashionating,” where she showcases trendy wardrobes on a student budget and provides beauty and fashion tips. Check it out

This story appeared in the Fall/Winter 2015 issue of FOCUS Magazine.

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