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YouTuber Will Jay performs at AKM Closing Ceremony

YouTuber Will Jay performs at AKM Closing Ceremony

AKM celebrates its 25th anniversary with musical performances and a vision for the future.

The Rion Ballroom glowed as students waved their cellphones in the air while listening to YouTube singer-songwriter, Will Jay, perform Wednesday night for Asian Kaleidoscope Month’s closing ceremony.

Jay exemplified this year’s theme, envision, as he encouraged Asian Americans to subvert stereotypes and pursue their endeavors despite what society may say. This year, the theme, envision, was chosen as a way to celebrate the future of Asian Americans.

“I was just tired of hearing a story about whitewashing – I felt like every other day Matt Damon was pretending to be a Chinese man and Scarlett Johansson was Japanese,” Jay said.

Will Jay performing at AKM Closing Ceremony. Photo by Bisma Masudi.

Jay performed multiple songs such as “Leading Man,”  “Gentleman” and other unreleased tracks. Jay gained fame after producing a video for his song, “Leading Man,”  which focused on the marginalization of Asian Americans in media.

“That video and song was kinda me deciding that I can do whatever I want, and I can be whoever I want to be regardless of what Hollywood or society or what the music industry tells me otherwise,” Jay said.

Other performances included a cover of “September” by the Ukulele Club, a “La La Land” medley by Maria Wang and Sofia Zheng on piano and violin respectively, and a hip-hop dance by Taylor Bell, Laura Williamson and Shuer Zhou.

Sophia Zheng playing “La La Land” on violin. Photo by Bisma Masudi.

Kay Ratnasamy, a first-year political science major, attended AKM’s opening ceremony and decided to attend the closing ceremony to support her friend, Audrey Ogoc, who sang a Tori Kelly song.

“I think it’s just nice to be able to find your own community within UF, and this is a great way for myself, as a freshman coming here, to meet new people and make really good connections with others,” Ratnasamy said. “So far the Asian community through AASU and AKM has been very inclusive, and I really like that.”

In addition to musical performances, raffles and giveaways, AKM and the Pi Delta Psi Fraternity awarded a 200 dollar scholarship to one lucky student, Korinna Abejuela.

Korinna Abejuela (second from left) receives her scholarship check. Photo by Bisma Masudi.

Abejuela, a third-year nursing major, had known about the scholarship offered by AKM and PDPsi since her freshman year. This year, her friends encouraged her and gave her the confidence to apply.

“I’ve always admired the people who won the scholarship because I think it’s prestigious because it’s a testament to academic achievement – that’s why we’re in college,” Abejuela said.

This is the first time she’s won a scholarship, and the money from the scholarship will go toward her nursing school expenses. 

Audrey Ogoc sings “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing”. Photo by Bisma Masudi.

“I was just really glad that someone – AKM and PDPsi – thought my story was significant enough that I deserve a scholarship for it,” Abejuela said.  “It validated that my story is worth sharing.”

Overall, AKM wrapped up its 25th anniversary of celebrating Asian American culture by raising over 500 dollars for Give2Asia, a non-profit organization that supports charities in Asian countries, and ending the event with a BequeHolic social.

The night ended with closing remarks that gave a call not only to reflect, but also envision a better future.

“We [Asian Americans] have to be vocal,” Jay said at the ceremony. “I think it’s time we kind of make waves.”

Photos by Bisma Masudi.