Class of 2014 graduate Emma Faye Rudkin is the highlighted alumna in this issue. While earning her degree in nonprofit management and communication at the University of Texas at San Antonio, she founded Aid the Silent and the organization has now been servicing deaf and hard-of-hearing children and teenagers for eight years. Aid the Silent recently reached a major milestone of purchasing our first property for the organization. They bought a 6,800 square foot facility off of Broadway Street in San Antonio. Aid the Silent is filled with children and their families nearly every day and we tripled our services in a single year to 888 services for deaf kids. Emma truly loves her job.
Young Life in Boerne made such a life altering impact on Emma in high school that she has worked for Young Life part time developing Deaf Young Life through San Antonio deaf teenagers for six years. She partners alongside other cities to create new Deaf Young Life programs and deaf accessible camping.
The most recent development for Emma is that she now has a full time service dog named Hank. Because of a significant hearing drop in 2017 a hearing dog was the solution for Emma to be able to travel alone so that she is alerted for sounds and Hank has greatly improved the quality of her life. Now Hank is the mascot for Aid the Silent and is the star of our PBS segment, “Signing Time with Hank and Emma Faye.”
In what ways did your Geneva education/training prepare you for the work you are doing now?
My faith in Jesus has led me to where I am today. I realized at 16 years old at Geneva school that God set me apart to help bring the Gospel to the deaf. Only 2% of the deaf have a relationship with Christ and they are the 3rd largest unreached people group in the world. Geneva surrounded me with so many Christian friends and mentors who are still in my life today. I learned that hard work is always worth it. The grind and the preparation does pay off in the long run. Currently, I am raising a funds for our capital campaign and I write grants nearly every week and present in front of boards and foundation executives. The ability to speak to a group of people to persuade them to give their funds to Aid the Silent is because of Geneva.
Please describe the most significant value you learned from Geneva.
I learned how to make a defense for my faith. Recently Aid the Silent was turned down for a large grant because we “blatantly had Christian values” and I had to defend my faith and hold firm. Honestly, praise be to God. If we were rejected for the sake of the gospel, it is 100% worth it.
I encounter a lot of atheists and agnostics in community events, grant writing and foundations, and they are always drawn to my Aid the Silent team because we have a relationship with Jesus. I try to lead my team from a Christian worldview because Geneva poured into me and instilled a love for God’s Word.
How would you encourage a Geneva Rhetoric School student to make the most of their Geneva years?
Academics are not your life, but hard work and your faith in Jesus will be. A lot of my peers were so academic focused, but not well rounded in other activities and interests. What stands out in the real world is not passing a grade or memorizing information but the ability to work hard and build relationships with people. Find time to volunteer with a nonprofit you have an interest in. Join a youth group, church or Young Life with a group of other Geneva friends and build friendship on a deeper, spiritual level. My best friend in third grade is still my best friend today, and I know it is because we lived life deeply together and through our faith.
Describe Geneva in one word. Explain.
Diligence. You are building character and school is not your whole life but working hard will be.
Please share one or two of your Geneva extracurricular activities and then contrast that with one or two of your current non-work activities.
Oh gosh. Cheerleading was definitely important to me. I cheered on a broken foot for months and my senior year was hard for me which led me to not pursue a cheer scholarship. My path was much better by not cheering in college which led me to pursue pageants and starting the nonprofit instead. Being in a front a crowd leading chants is not as scary as walking in heels in the Miss Texas pageant.
What are your future career goals and how do you feel prepared for them?
I really want to have a family and include my future children in my ministry. I would love to start a deaf mothers day out child care program so my future kids can become fluent in sign language, be at my workplace and become friends with little deaf kids. I would cry from the cuteness! Also, Aid the Silent launched in house audiology and I hope this will grow into a full service clinic.
How are you impacted by your work now? What is something you have learned/are learning about yourself and God’s world?
A lot of families come to us trying to see the hope in hearing loss and to find community for their child. From fitting their hearing aids to inviting the young person to Deaf Young Life, you are able to see a complete 180 change in their life and in their family’s life. The child will go from being anxious or angry, hiding their deafness in a hoodie to being free and joyful showing off their new bright blue hearing aids. My days are filled with God trying to get my attention and I see His love daily when the children I help receive resources.