Reflecting back on the past four and a half years of hard work, Rudkin sighed in relief as she told us, “[Walking the stage] was the best feeling. I cried so hard just knowing that it was all worth it.”
In a turn of events she claims to be the work of God alone, the same voice Emma Faye Rudkin was bullied for while growing up has become a leading voice advocating for the deaf and hard of hearing community of San Antonio. Through her faith and the support of close relationships, Rudkin has defied all odds achieving goals that many believed were impossible for a deaf person.
Recently, she walked the stage at UTSA and claimed her diploma as one of the 5% of deaf Americans to obtain a four-year college degree.
She believes it was when she began to lose her hearing as a child that she began to gain her Vision for her God-given purpose, which she says is to inspire young people. She shared stories of her childhood with us detailing her dreams to accomplish the things she’s doing now.
After winning Miss San Antonio, she received the title from her young deaf followers of “The Signing Princess”. She hopes that earning her college degree will encourage more deaf students to finish strong.
She received her bachelor’s degree in Communications with a minor in Non-Profit Management from UTSA all while balancing her busy life of traveling and speaking, some days even bringing her suitcase to class with her and leaving immediately after lectures to catch flights to speaking engagements.
She coupled her passion for her cause with her commitment to the classroom admitting how tempted she was to drop out because of the pressure.
“I have to practice what I preach,” she said. “I’m telling people that they can be the 5% [to finish college], and here I am thinking to myself at times, ‘I really don’t think I want this.’”
She shared some alarming realities about the deaf community.
“Statistics say that 90% of the deaf are either underemployed or unemployed, 45% graduate from high school and only 5% graduate from college,” she said. “It’s a tragedy that many deaf people don’t have the resources they need, and when you see a deaf person [who doesn't finish school], there might be a doctor, a poet, a nurse, or a teacher trapped inside them.”
Along with balancing school work, she shared a list with us of other tasks on her plate that had us out of breath just listening. She is the founder of a non-profit organization that serves the deaf and hard of hearing community called Aid the Silent.
She is also the first deaf winner to wear the Miss San Antonio crown, she's a member of the Texas governor’s committee for people with disabilities, and the leader of the Deaf Young Life ministry group, which she hosts from her home.
She plans to “hyper focus” on her mission now that her schedule has freed up, and she hopes her story will champion the message that all things are possible for those who believe.
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