Emma Faye Rudkin isn’t your average college student. She has already won Miss San Antonio, started a nonprofit and found her calling in life: helping others.
“The secret is that … you can be a college student and still make a difference,” Rudkin said. “You find out who you are, who you are meant to be when you help people.”
Rudkin is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications at UTSA, is a part of the Honors College and is a member of Young Life, a non-profit organization with a faith-based message that is invested in helping young people.
Rudkin’s nonprofit, Aid The Silent, advocates for and supports the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. The organization has recently attracted a large social media following with its #ShowYourAids social media campaign. #ShowYourAids attracted national attention when it was supported by the NFL’s first legally deaf offensive player, Derrick Coleman, who posted a photo wearing his aids using the hashtag.
The nonprofit accepts donations year-round and had its first official fundraiser, a 5K, in November.
“I was very surprised,” Rudkin said about the race. “A lot of people showed up! We were able to buy a FM system for a little girl. The system can be worn by the teacher and the student so that whatever the teacher says is directly relayed to the student. We were also able to raise funds for a child’s speech therapy.”
Rudkin receives many emails from people, especially from parents with female children that have a speech impediment. “There are not a lot of female role models (in the death and hard-of-hearing community) for them and I’ve received emails from all over the world,” Rudkin said.
Aid The Silent recently celebrated its first birthday. On the anniversary Rudkin had a humble celebration. “I was with a group of friends — some that supported me from the start with Aid The Silent — and we all sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Aid the Silent while eating pecan pie. It’s amazing that we got to this point because, like restaurants, most nonprofits fail within their first year. When Rudkin was 19, she was at a Young Life camp when the idea for the nonprofit formed.
In addition, she has started a new outreach in partnership called Deaf Life. It is the new branch of Young Life, and is meant to be an international example. “The idea is that I will travel the country and set up branches all over the country.”
Rudkin says even she is surprised at the way her life has turned out and gives credit to God.
“I went from being bullied when I spoke due to my accent to being invited to various places to speak and am even in talks to become a part of the Christian speaking circuit. God took my greatest insecurity and used it for his cause.”
Rudkin’s advice to anyone who would like to make a difference is to “be authentic, see what breaks your heart and makes it hurt so that when the time comes where you can do something about that, you will be invested. After all, just because you are a college student, that doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference.”