Inspiration. Service. Community. Achievement. These are the common themes woven through the life stories of the 2023 Longwood Alumni Award winners. The awards annually honor Longwood graduates and friends for their outstanding achievements and service to others. Selected by the Alumni Board, recipients inspire the world around them through their professional and philanthropic achievements, their contributions to their communities as citizen leaders and their loyalty to Longwood.

“Did you know that 80 percent of our brain architecture is developed by the time we are 3 years old?” asks Deana McGuire Buck.

That fact pointing to the critical importance of early childhood development has directed her life’s work.

“It all started with language,” she said. “I’ve been absolutely fascinated with how children acquire language and how they use it.” She spent three years at Longwood in a 3+1 speech pathology program, taking her senior year of classes at UVA to earn her degree. She stayed on in Charlottesville to earn a master’s degree before joining the Virginia Institute for Developmental Disabilities at VCU, where she spent much of her career. That organization became the Partnership for People with Disabilities in 2002, and Buck moved into a leadership role where she trained professionals working with children and their families, researched and published best practices, and developed innovative methodologies.

Since 2012 she’s been Virginia’s Act Early ambassador for the Centers for Disease Control’s “Learn The Signs, Act Early” program, which provides resources to families with children who may have developmental delays or disabilities. “Children getting off to a great start with families that have the support they need is an extraordinary investment in our future,” she said.

Buck found a similar type of support when she arrived at Longwood and met a group of fellow North Cunninghams residents who have stayed close since their first week of college. 

“We’ve been together through it all—children, family milestones, sad times, happy times. And any one of us would be there for anyone else in a heartbeat,” she said.

The Humanitarian Alumni Award honors alumni who have enriched the lives of others and improved the welfare of their communities through a selfless dedication to service for the good of others.

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