JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Deundra Owens-Blackmon’s was an infant when her hearing vanished forever due to a fever, which is one reason her upcoming commencement on Saturday, April 30, is all the sweeter. She is one of the first hearing-impaired students to receive an accounting degree from the university’s College of Business.

A native of Natchitoches, Louisiana, Owens-Blackmon began using sign language as a 2-year-old attending pre-kindergarten. Eventually, she would give birth to a son, DeAndre, 12, and a daughter, Zaniyah, 10. She taught both her children to sign when they were 11 months old.

Raising two children alone, Owens-Blackmon says the idea of attending college seemed beyond her reach.

I never imagined that I would one day return to school in higher education to pursue my degree. I was a single parent with two children,” she shares.

One day, while at a store in Hammond, Louisiana, she bumped into an old acquaintance, Wilson Blackmon, a native of Canton, Mississippi. Coincidentally, Wilson Blackmon lost his hearing at the age of 5 as a result of a fever.

The couple fell in love and got married in 2018 and in Fall of 2018, Owens-Blackmon enrolled at JSU.

The soon-to-be graduate admits the learning process was not without hurdles, but due to her hard work, dedication and perseverance, Owens-Blackmon has reached the grand finale of her undergraduate journey.

“Jackson State University means so much to me. My HBCU experience will forever be one to remember.  The people and friends that I have met over these four years have helped me grow and mature from my mistakes,” says Owens-Blackmon, who holds a 3.3 GPA and is an active member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars at JSU.

After graduation, Owens-Blackmon says she plans  on becoming a certified public accountant and pursuing a master’s degree in professional accountancy at JSU