From the College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Kasondra Payne

Kasondra Payne, ’13

The Legacy of Utah State

By Kristen Munson

Kasondra Payne, ’13, lifts a pink screen protector off her iPad. An automated woman’s voice states there are 93 new emails in her inbox. Payne methodically slides a finger across the glass touchscreen and opens a new document and begins typing. Her fingers swipe over a refreshable Braille display to review her work.

“These are the things I cannot live without,” Payne said with a smile.

But that isn’t really true. While advances in technology have made access to information easier, Payne has worked independently long before VoiceOver. She was born with a degenerative eye condition and has been legally blind since high school. She joined the National Federation for the Blind (NFB) at age 17.

“I needed role models,” Payne said. “I needed someone who could demonstrate for me that I was going to be successful at whatever I wanted to do.”

Now, she insists those with disabilities can and do become anything they want to be. The mother of three aims to show her children what is possible.

“We all work with what we have,” she said. “It’s really the same steps in a different way.”

Payne is the 2013 recipient of the Legacy of Utah State Award, which recognizes a student who represents the heart and soul of the university through service and perseverance during times of adversity. The honor is deserved. Payne started a local chapter of the NFB where she lobbies on behalf of the visually impaired. She has traveled to Washington, D.C., three times advocating for the blind. And while working towards her bachelor’s degree, she served as a note taker for other blind students and trained staff how to use technology in the Disability Resource Center.

“I want to work with people with disabilities for the rest of my life,” Payne said.