October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)! Hear directly from adults living with SMA in the workforce. Register for Cure SMA’s first NDEAM webinar. The 60-minute webinar will be held on Wednesday, October 24 at 2:00 p.m. CDT.
Social media: @KaitlynYang
At age nine, Kaitlyn Yang emigrated to the U.S. from China and was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, which leaves her wheelchair-bound. She is a graduate of University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, and is a recipient of the 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30 for Hollywood/Entertainment. With over 10 years of experience in visual effects, she overseas Alpha Studios, a post production company she founded in 2013. Prior to starting Alpha, Yang worked as a freelance visual effects artist on shows include Robot Chicken, Falling Skies, and The Walking Dead. She is a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, USC Young Alumni Council, and the Visual Effects Society. Yang is an advocate for minority and disability inclusion in Hollywood. Her talks have been covered by Variety, Emmys Magazine, and Women in Animation.
Shane Burcaw is a 26-year-old author, public speaker, nonprofit executive, and blogger. His published works include two memoirs (Laughing at My Nightmare, 2014; Strangers Assume My Girlfriend Is My Nurse, 2019) and a children’s book (Not So Different, 2017). As a speaker, Shane has performed over 200 keynote presentations for clients that range from elementary schools to Harvard University. Shane’s blog about the humor of living with SMA Type 2 has over half a million followers. He lives in Minneapolis, MN with his girlfriend, Hannah.
Srin Madipalli is a Product Manager at Airbnb with a focus on making travel easier for people with disabilities. Srin was an entrepreneur who founded Accomable, a travel platform for people with disabilities, which was acquired by Airbnb in November 2017. Srin is from London, UK and previously practiced as an attorney at a leading international law firm and is a self-taught web developer. He has degrees from King’s College London and Oxford University.
Candis has lived through more than most would even imagine. Born and raised throughout Los Angeles and its surrounding areas, she grew up with an unparalleled drive and determination. Being diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy at the age of 18 months she knew that her life would be challenging, but she never let that stop her from achieving her goals and living life on her terms.
Upon graduating from high school, Candis moved out and into the world on her own. She enrolled at Santa Monica College to study Journalism, joining an externship program with the Los Angeles Times. Fueled by her desire to earn a higher-level degree and to show others that face similar obstacles that it is possible, she then transferred to California State University, Northridge and went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations.
Candis began her career in entertainment publicity, interning and working for various boutique firms, as well as freelancing for her own clients. During this time, she was offered an Executive Assistant position with Issa Rae Productions Inc. Since then, she has grown with the company and continues to be an integral part of Issa Rae’s business. After realizing that entertainment publicity was not her purpose, she decided to pivot into the government sector and began working for the County of Los Angeles. While working both a full-time and part-time job, she enrolled back at California State University, Northridge to earn her Master’s in Public Administration. She graduated at the top of her graduating class in 2016. Candis recently joined the Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority where she aids in developing programs to provide shelter and all-inclusive care for the homeless population of Los Angeles County.
In the midst of earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree, as well as working two jobs, Candis always finds time to enjoy her life. She loves to explore her neighborhood and try different restaurants, bars and other local fun activities. She also loves to travel and makes it a point to show others with disabilities that they too can travel the world. Most recently, she went on a trip to Cancun, Mexico, a cruise where she visited St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Grand Turks and Caicos, Puerto Rico and is planning to visit Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and Spain in the coming year.
Candis lives a full life despite the everyday adversities she faces dealing with a disability that has forced her into a wheelchair with limited mobility. She chooses to persevere and prove people’s stereotypes wrong, wishing to set an example and provide hope for others in her situation. Candis hopes to change the perception of those that are disabled and/or using mobility devices, helping to advocate for their rights to equal access in public and private spaces, transportation, and general accommodations to a group of people that deserve to live life just as anyone else would.