(Jan. 24, 2018) -- Meet Emma Faye Rudkin. This UTSA student is advocating for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing through her nonprofit, Aid the Silent.
Born in Boerne, Texas, Rudkin was four years old when she was diagnosed as legally deaf.
“I didn’t know a lot of concepts and words until I was 11,” Rudkin said. “I had close friends, but for a long time I felt like no one understood me. I spent the majority of my childhood wanting to be included, thinking that no one understood my world.”
When Rudkin was 16, she attended a Young Life camp and met Morgan Champion, who became a mentor to her. Champion helped Rudkin realize her childhood dream to advocate for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing.
In 2015, Rudkin entered her first beauty pageant and won. She was named Miss San Antonio. The win provided the UTSA student with the platform that she needed to launch her non-profit organization. Aid the Silent was born shortly thereafter.
In 2017, Rudkin won the Miss San Antonio pageant again. Serving as a repeat titleholder provided her with new opportunities to gain visibility for the causes she wanted to advance through Aid the Silent.
“Winning Miss San Antonio catapulted the organization and provided a platform to join the conversation about the challenges the deaf and loss of hearing people face,” Rudkin said.
According to Rudkin, an honors student pursuing her degree in communications and a minor in non-profit management, children who are deaf frequently are not given access to the resources and tools they need to communicate with others. In the United States alone, for example, only 20 states require private health insurance companies to cover the cost of hearing aids.
“I want to open the eyes of the community regarding the issues and the struggles that deaf people encounter,” Rudkin said.
Aid the Silent supports the deaf and hard-of-hearing community through deaf ministry, deaf research, deaf education and deaf resources. Its goal is to be a source of support to help and financially assist economically disadvantaged deaf or hard-of-hearing children and teens through ministry-related activities, sponsorship programs, hearing products, speech resources and learning. It provides hearing aids, classroom equipment, camping scholarships, family and individual American Sign Language lessons, speech therapy and other ministries.
In 2017, Rudkin organized the first Aid the Silent “Good Vibrations” music festival. The live music and arts festival provided a forum for people who are deaf and hard-of-hearing to enjoy music. The event offered captioning and bluetooth technology, which allowed listeners to feel the vocals and musical vibrations on their backs. More than 2,000 people attended the festival, including 350 individuals who were deaf.
“I want this musical festival to become a citywide festival,” said Rudkin. “I want to position San Antonio on the map as a model city in providing accommodations for deaf people.”
Aid the Silent’s future plans include purchasing a building to expand its operations, continuing its work nationally and internationally with deaf schools and advocating for the adoption of deaf children.
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Throughout the summer, UTSA offers more than 60 camps in science, engineering, architecture, sports, music, writing, language, culture and more.Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
Experience a fun, interactive week at UTSA as new students and their families take the first steps to becoming a Roadrunner.Various locations, Main Campus and Downtown Campuses
Chat with members of the Downtown Campus Initiative Task Force about changes taking place as the Downtown Campus grows and transforms to offer a comprehensive living and learning experience. Table topics will include curriculum changes, orientation updates, transportation, food and living options.Frio Street Building Commons Area, Downtown Campus
UTSA and the San Antonio Express-News will jointly host this town hall meeting to discuss Unequal Justice in Bexar County and in Texas.Buena Vista Street Building Theater (BVB 1.326), Downtown Campus
Finance and Budget Modeling Task Force presents a panel presentation of experts from 4 universities with experience in incentive-based budgeting. All UTSA campus community is invited to attend and be informed about budgeting processes.Business Building Richard Liu Auditorium (BB 2.01.02), Main Campus
This event showcases the work of trainees, faculty, staff and students from multiple disciplines and public health agencies across San Antonio.H-E-B Student Union Ballroom (HSU 1.104), Main Campus
This exhibit highlights the UTSA Special Collections, which includes historic photographs from Texas, San Antonio and UTSA history.UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus
Come learn about the benefits available before the enrollment period July 15-31.Business Building University Room (BB 2.06.04), Main Campus