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VCC alumna "unmasks" inclusion through poetry

Posted on October 31, 2019

Roshni Kashyap smiling with copies of her book

When guests arrived at Roshni Kashyap’s book launch, held last fall at VCC’s Downtown campus, each was asked to wear a paper mask. Soon, the room was filled with a suspicious mix of characters from Batman, Star Wars, and Paw Patrol.

When Roshni took the podium, she explained that when people meet her, they tend to see her Down syndrome instead of the person behind it. She then dramatically lifted her own mask, saying “Yo! I’m one of you!” It was an emotional moment for many. “People loved it,” she says.

Pursuing a lifelong passion for cooking, Roshni first joined VCC in 2012 as part of the Food Service Careers Special Education program. She went on to start her own business selling homemade cranberry chutneys, crediting VCC for her newfound skills and confidence. "People like me actually need education the most," she says. "Everyone has dreams."

In 2016, Roshni won VCC's Outstanding Alumni Award for Community Contribution, and in 2017, she delivered the alumni address at VCC's fall convocation ceremony.

With hobbies that include painting, singing, rapping, playing guitar, and vlogging on YouTube, Roshni always has a creative project on the go, but finds poetry especially meaningful. "It's therapeutic for me," she says. 

Roshni's new, 50-page book of original poems and visual art, entitled Don't Forget You're Beautiful, is now available on Amazon with proceeds going to support special needs programs.

Currently, Roshni is a full-time arts student at the University of British Columbia and continues to advocate for people of all abilities in post-secondary education.

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Learn more about VCC's career-oriented programs for students with disabilities, offering employable skills in hospitality, food service, retail, and office administration.