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During a hot summer day on Lady Bird Lake, a 35-foot pontoon boat glides through the water with Isabella Judge ’20 at the helm. The boat drifts under the South Congress bridge, and Judge points out buildings along the Austin skyline, making jokes and sharing trivia about the city.

Originally from Akron, Ohio, Judge got her start as a tour guide for Hilltop Hospitality, but it was a public-speaking class her freshman year that gave her the confidence to guide a boat full of tourists down the lake. “I’d never driven a boat before, but my boss said it was more important that I was comfortable speaking in front of people,” she says about her part-time job as a riverboat captain.

When she’s not on the water, the Communication major is a content manager for It’s On Us (a nonprofit organization that works to stop sexual assault), teaches barre classes as a Group X instructor, is a lector and Eucharistic minister for Campus Ministry, is a communications intern with the Girls Empowerment Network, and practices her self-taught American Sign Language (ASL) skills with deaf and hard of hearing employees at Crepe Crazy.

“It’s a bonus being in Austin and living close to the Texas School for the Deaf,” she says. “ASL is a passion for me, and being in a city with a high population of people who are deaf or hard of hearing helps me become fully immersed in a community where I can practice and observe.”

Judge says her goals for her next two years on the hilltop are to try everything, even if she doesn’t think she’ll succeed.

“You never know, it could be the perfect fit for you. That’s the story of my life being at St. Edward’s,” she says. “My advice is to try things that you don’t think you have the resources or ability to do because you may fall in love with ASL or you may move 1,300 miles across the country to go to school where you don’t know anyone, and it turns out to be the best decision of your life.”


Judge catches up on homework at Crepe Crazy on South Lamar Boulevard.


The European bakery is deaf-owned with many deaf and hard-of-hearing staff, which gives Judge an opportunity to practice her self-taught American Sign Language skills.


Judge says finding St. Edward’s felt like a puzzle-piece moment, when everything came together: The university’s mission aligns perfectly with her future goals.


Milo, her one-year-old dog, leads the way through campus on a daily walk.


The Bichon Frise and Shi Tzu mix is a natural in front of the camera. Judge maintains an Instagram presence for him at @a.doggo.named.milo.

Associate Dean of Students Connie Rey Rodriguez and Judge work through creating graphics for an It’s on Us campaign to prevent sexual violence.


As a communications intern for the Girls Empowerment Network, one of her duties includes being a leadership mentor to high-school students during a field trip.


Judge transforms into Captain Bella for her part-time job with Lone Star Riverboat Cruises, where she guides tourists along Lady Bird Lake.


Judge said her favorite part of the boat tour is watching the bats fly out from under the South Congress Bridge.

 

By Erica Quiroz MLA ’18
Photography by Whitney Devin ’10
Videography by Morgan Printy MLA ’17