"She's just warm and truly makes me feel as though I can accomplish absolutely anything," Jami Taylor said of University of Arkansas - Fort Smith Instructor Justina Buck, recipient of the 2020 Lori Norin Faculty Appreciation Award.
The award is presented each year to a faculty member who serves the institution and its students in an exceptional way. Buck has served as a faculty member in the Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership (BSOL) since 2016, after beginning her career at UAFS as an adjunct English instructor in 2015.
"I had her for two courses my first semester back," explained Taylor, a BSOL major and member of the Student Government Association (SGA). "She captivated me. Her courses made me think; they made me question how I could bring what I was learning into my actual life."
Taylor said she was out of school for several years before returning to finish her bachelor's degree, and Buck played an important role in her transition back into a university environment, as well as her academic success.
"She invites personal stories and shares tidbits of her own life,” Taylor said. “She is vulnerable and compassionate to everyone.”
Kristen Karetov, a fellow BSOL student SGA member, joined Taylor in nominating Buck, crediting the effort given as her advisor and instructor over the course of three semesters.
"She works with students to make sure they aren't falling behind," said Karetov. "She goes out of her way to be an amazing advisor."
Taylor also added that Buck regularly helped her brainstorm career possibilities, and Karetov agreed, stating that Buck always goes above and beyond to help her students.
"I feel as if I can walk into her office at any time, for anything, and she will be there to help me figure it out," said Taylor. "UAFS should feel honored to have her. I am."
In addition to her career as an instructor, Buck is also a first lieutenant in the Arkansas Army National Guard and working toward earning her doctorate. She graduated from UAFS in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts and completed her Master of Science in college student personnel in 2013 and Master of Arts in English in 2014, both at Arkansas Tech.