Ever since she can remember, Kaylin Dillon has been picking up new languages.
“My grandparents started teaching me Swahili, French, and German words at a young age,” she said. “I always knew I wanted to learn languages, travel, and have my own exciting travel stories like the ones my grandparents would tell me.”
With her grandparents’ example before her, Kaylin took college-level French in high school, which led to majoring in French for her first bachelor’s in 2011. After graduating from KU for the first time, she was lamenting to her friends that she had no idea what to do with her career. One of them convinced Kaylin that if she could sit down and study flashcards, then she could study Chinese.
So she did. A second bachelor’s, this time in East Asian Languages and Cultures, followed in 2012, as well as a master’s in EALC in 2015.
Now a Financial Advisor at Morgan Stanley, Kaylin is working on getting her Certified Financial Planner designation.
“The finance world is just another language and I absolutely love it,” she said. While she doesn’t use French or Mandarin in her current career, she knows her foreign language skills are still an asset.
“I know for a fact that my language experience helped me land my current job,” she said. “Employers see foreign language as the mark of a quality education. Clients appreciate a well-rounded advisor too.”
Thanks to her time at KU, Kaylin’s already started racking up travel stories to rival her grandparents’.
“One of my favorite classes was Ancient China with Professor Crispin Williams,” she said. "I remember learning about the Terracotta Warriors built by the first Emperor of China, Qin Shihuang. He ordered the building of the warriors to protect him in the afterlife — there are so many it’s absolutely unfathomable. It totally blew my mind. I knew I had to go check them out in person and that’s exactly what I did.”
And so off she went to study in Beijing through Columbia University’s summer program. She was one of several KU students accepted into competitive programs put on by schools like Princeton, Harvard, and Columbia, and encourages anyone considering a foreign language to go for it.
“Do it. Just do it. It’s a total adventure and — whatever you’re thinking — it’s not that bad,” she said. “I think a lot of English speakers assume a language like Chinese is just too foreign. But that’s not the case at all. KU’s Chinese program is incredible. You don’t have to have any special skills going into it.”