SIKESTON -- Judy Buck may have recently received the Outstanding Missourian award, but the Sikeston resident refuses to take all the credit herself.
Buck was honored Jan. 29 as an Outstanding Missourian by Missouri House Speaker Rod Jetton of Marble Hill and Rep. Ellen Brandom of Sikeston on the floor of the Missouri House of Representatives in Jefferson City.
"It is so humbling because so many people work so hard," Buck said. "I'm proud to have been recognized that way."
Buck serves as director of the Southeast Missouri State University-Sikeston, a satellite campus of Southeast Missouri State University.
"Obtaining an education makes a huge difference in getting ahead in life. The state legislature has made education one of its top priorities over the past three years, and one of the most significant contributions I have seen has come from Judy Buck," Jetton said.
Buck has been at the Center since 1998 and works together with faculty and Southeast employees and students to coordinate class schedules, business training opportunities and other student services.
"Judy has personally affected the lives of many seeking an education in Southeast Missouri," Jetton said. "Her contribution is heartfelt and has truly made a difference in the lives of many Missourians. For her service and dedication, I am proud to nominate her as an Outstanding Missourian."
Buck said she first learned about the honor after receiving a letter from the House Speaker in December.
"I didn't know anything," Buck said about being nominated for the award. "I was totally shocked."
As an Outstanding Missourian, Buck was introduced on the floor of the Missouri House, where she was presented with a framed resolution. A luncheon for Buck and her family followed.
"It was awesome. I thought I was dreaming," Buck said.
Buck said the most rewarding part of her work is helping students achieve their goals, especially ones who did not think they would have the opportunity to pursue higher education.
"Educating our young people is so vital for the future of Missouri," Brandom said. "Judy truly shines as an Outstanding Missourian thanks to her dedication to providing educational opportunities to Missouri students."
A native of Osceola, Ark., Buck received her bachelor's degree from Arkansas State University. She moved to Southeast Missouri to teach and went on to earn her master's in teaching and specialist's in education from Southeast Missouri State University.
"I was just taken back," Buck said. "I'm very thankful and very appreciative. It's taken lots of good people to make all of this possible. I share it with everybody."
Besides her duties as director of the Southeast Missouri State University-
Sikeston, Buck is involved in the Sikeston Rotary Club, Sikeston Chamber of Commerce and P.E.O.
Brandom said Buck's devotion to education is unparalleled.
"As a former Sikeston school board member and president and a Southeast Missouri State University Foundation member, I have witnessed first hand the care and concern she has for her students and faculty," Brandom said. "Judy's administrative ability and compassion has made the Sikeston campus the success it has become. For that, we, the community, are grateful."
Meanwhile, Buck said she's just honored to receive the recognition.
"It makes me feel very good," Buck said. "I'm just proud to be part of a dream that Sikeston has had for many years. I'm lucky to be included and appreciate everything."