By: Kae Saeteurn – Ethnic Seattle

August 25, 2015

This summer has been a whirlwind for Judilyn Rodriguez. This past April, she was crowned Miss Filipino Community of Seattle, thus taking on the honor and responsibility of representing her community by running for this year’s Miss Seafair. A couple of weeks removed from the Seafair festivies, I finally sat down with the newly crowned Seafair Second Princess to discuss her experience, community involvement and more. 

Ethnic Seattle: Can we talk about why you decided to run for Miss Seafair?

Judilyn Rodriguez: One thing for sure, I found out it was a scholarship program for women. On top of that, you get to go through different experiences so that really attracted me to “compete” for Miss Seafair.  I wanted to learn from the experience because you get to compete for scholarship money, and at the same time, learn how to hone in on certain skills, like public speaking skills.

ES: What were some of your favorite moments or events? What was the experience like for you overall?

JR: My favorite moment was actually my first parade. It was the Pride Parade in Seattle. I’ve never been to a parade before so it was really exciting to see everyone excited and happy. I felt like all the parades were definitely my favorite. One thing you get to see is that the kids are the ones that appreciate you a lot more than the adults just because it’s a magical moment for them.

ES: So a part of the Miss Seafair program includes community service involvement. What did you do as your community service?

JR: Before I entered this whole competition, I was volunteering for the Filipino Community Center as a robotics instructor. I was teaching kids in kindergarten all the way through eighth grade how to build robots from Legos and how to program them using computers. It was a fun thing to do because I never thought that I could be an instructor, especially for kids, or teach them how to build robots.

ES: And you worked a lot with youth of color, correct?

JR: Yes.

ES: What do you believe are some of the most pressing issues for youth of color, specifically? What have you noticed through your time volunteering?

JR: One thing I noticed is that they really don’t have much support. The students seem to know this as well, so they already are telling themselves they can’t do it. We do these friendly competitions, and we usually split the students into groups they want, the girls would group together and guys with other guys. For the girls, they usually say, “No I don’t want to do this, I don’t want to try because the boys are going to win.” As the classes progress, there’s more confidence and things slowly change. With youth of color, you can tell there are deeper issues. They face more barriers, and you want to show them you’re there to help them.

ES: Why do you think Asian/Pacific Islander or overall people of color representation is so important within technology?

JR: The first thing is that the United States is becoming a lot more diverse, so just having more people representing and working in the field of technology is going to help people of color advance. It’s the same thing with healthcare. We need more representation of women in healthcare, we need more representation of minorities in healthcare.

ES: Now that the competition is over, how do you plan to continue serving the Filipino Community of Seattle, and other communities in general?

JR: I will still be volunteering as a robotics instructor for kids. I still have a year to go with Seafair, and as Miss Filipino Community of Seattle, I still have to go to a couple of the events that requires Miss Seafair to attend.
ES: During your time running for Miss Seafair, how did you, or how do you currently, include empowerment for women and minorities of color?

JR: Pretty much just keep trying hard and don’t let anything stop you from fulfilling your goals or your dreams. After going through all of this experience it gave me inspiration that I can be able to do whatever I want. Through this program I met people who are able to support me, my mentors, and it definitely opened my eyes to what could happen.

Click on the links to learn more about the Filipino Community of Seattle or how to run for Miss Seafair