Fab Freshman: Julia Kennedy

Meet Julia! She is Hampton’s very first deaf student. She is a freshman, Graphic Design major who is currently living in Chesapeake, VA. Julia is the oldest of three and her family’s motto is, “Don’t give up and find another way.” Read more to learn about this phenomenal freshman and her big goals for the future!


HC: Why did you decide to come to Hampton University?

JK:  First, I wanted the experience of going to a HBCU. Secondly, I wanted to experience hearing culture. And it feels like home here. My mom is also an alum here, so we share a mother-daughter bond of Hampton being both of our home-by-the-sea. Also, I wanted to break barriers for people with disabilities here.


HC: Describe the biggest struggle you faced last semester. How did you overcome this difficulty?

JK: Accommodations and time-management skills as well. In regards to time management, doing homework early and I try not to procrastinate. And the accommodations challenge, I overcome it by fighting for my rights and advocating for myself.


HC: Do you think the university has done a good job of accommodating for you and other students that have disabilities? If not, what would you like to see improved?

JK: They’re really nice here, but there just needs to be more resources available. Like note-takers for me in class and stuff like that. They also could do a better job of spreading awareness on campus and having an open dialogue.


HC: What was your favorite moment from the fall semester? And are you looking forward to anything in the upcoming semester?

JK: The honors college charity ball is my favorite moment from last semester. This semester,  I am looking forward to spreading deaf and disability awareness and to learning the campus environment better. I want people on campus to know me better and be comfortable asking me questions if they have any. I would like to create an ASL club, but I may wait until I’m a sophomore to do that.


HC: I hear you have plans to publish a book in the future. What do you plan on writing about?

JK: I want to write about my life from the beginning to now, and my struggles. My dad wrote a book about fatherhood, so I want to write one from my perspective as a daughter. I really want to empower people and inspire them to be better.


HC: Speaking of books, have you read anything good, other than your textbooks, lately?

JK: I’ve read a lot of good books lately. One was about a woman with a disability entering the Miss USA for the first time. That’s actually based on a true story. Another book was about a man who was the first person with cerebral palsy to climb this mountain. People kept telling him to go back, but he refused to give up.


HC: As someone who’s an anti-bullying advocate, what advice do you have for anyone who is currently being bullied?  

JK:  First of all, try to ignore it. But, if that doesn’t work speak up. And if it still continues, ask for help. Don’t be scared because there are people who can help you. The best part is that one day  you will leave that environment and be successful somewhere else. What people say about you doesn’t define who you are.


HC: How do you “escape” when you are feeling overwhelmed with school or stressed out?

JK: I watch movies and videos. On Youtube, I watch this one series called Holly Oaks that’s from I think England or somewhere else in Europe. And there are three people on Youtube that I’m inspired by. One is Charisse because she has cerebral palsy, another is Rikki Poynter who is  a deaf advocate and Molly who is a blind advocate. I’m really inspired by other people like Marlee Matlin who is the first deaf actress to win an Academy award, and Nyle DiMarco who is a deaf male-model.


HC: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now for free, where would you go?

JK: Wow that would be hard for me to pick just one! But, I would really like to go to Paris because it is a beautiful place. I wouldn’t mind going to California either. All of my role models actually live there.