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Volunteer Vision: 2018 Distinguished Alumni

October 24, 2018
By Alexandra Woolbright

Starkville Academy recently recognized the 2018 Distinguished Alumni. The second-ever class of distinguished alumni award winners included Johnny Buckner (Class of '75), Kevin Rogers ('94), Neely Tucker ('82) and Andrew Weaver ('85).

Johnny Buckner
While at SA,
Johnny Buckner played the trumpet for the Volunteer Band and was a member of the football, basketball, and track teams. After graduating from SA in 1975, he earned a degree in Music Education from Mississippi State University and received his Master’s in Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Buckner later moved to China, where he studied Mandarin Chinese in two of China’s premiere universities. As a musician, Buckner has performed and led worship music throughout the United States and around the world, performing at the Grand Ole Opry House, on primetime television, and at major universities, high schools and churches. In the 1980’s he recorded an album of his original songs titled “He Called Me by Name.” Buckner is a missions leader and internationally renowned speaker and teacher. He has partnered in pioneering, leading and serving on boards of ministries, churches, international schools and businesses in America, Asia and Europe. He is a founder of Beautiful Feet Street Ministry in Fort Worth, Texas, Youth With A Mission COM in Southeast Asia and New Enterprises International, just to name a few. Buckner currently serves as senior pastor at New Horizons Christian Fellowship in Starkville.

Kevin Rogers
Kevin Rogers graduated from Starkville Academy in 1994. He attended Vanderbilt University, where he received a degree in Molecular Biology with summa cum laude honors, before graduating from Emory University School of Medicine with his Doctor of Medicine. Rogers has also earned a Master’s of Science in Clinical Investigation from the University of Utah. Currently, he serves as Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of Vascular Medicine and Intervention for the Division of Cardiology at the University of Colorado Denver. He also works as a clinical and research consultant for CPC and provides interventional cardiology services at Denver VAMC. In 2007, Rogers was named Fellow of the Year at the University of Colorado. He was recognized by the University of Colorado Housestaff Association in 2012 for Outstanding Service and Education and as one of the “Best Doctors in America” in 2015 by national survey. He has presented his work at many conferences and symposiums and his research can be found in a variety of journals, book chapters and websites. Most recently, Rogers earned the Citizenship Award for the Division of Cardiology at the University of Colorado.

Neely Tucker
As a student at SA, Neely Tucker was All State in track, All Conference in football, wrote for the school newspaper and performed in theatre productions. He graduated from Starkville Academy in 1982 after attending the school for 12 years. He later graduated from the University of Mississippi with magna cum laude honors. He has since worked in more than 60 countries or territories as a foreign correspondent based in Europe and Africa and spent 17 year as a writer at The Washington Post. His 2004 memoir, “Love in the Driest Season,” part of which detailed growing up in Starkville, was named one of the Top 25 Books of the Year by Publishers Weekly, the American Booksellers Association and the New York City Public Library, among others. He has written three novels, all of which have been named to year end “best of” lists. In 2016, his papers were inducted into the Special Collections Archives at Mitchell Memorial Library at Mississippi State University. Currently, Tucker lives near Washington, D.C., with his wife, Carol, and their three children.

Andrew Weaver
Andrew Weaver is a 1985 honors graduated of Starkville Academy. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Mississippi State University in 1990, where was a John C. Stennis Scholar and graduated cum laude as a Distinguished Graduate from the Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps. He holds two master’s degrees in Business Management from Webster University and Military Operational Art and Science from Air University. Weaver served on active duty for 27 years in the Air Force, which included nine state-side assignments, one overseas posting and two deployments to Afghanistan. He held key leadership positions such as Director of the Secretary of the Air Force Personnel Council at Andrews Air Force Base, Chief of the Lessons Learned Branch at the NATO Joint Warfare Center in Stavanger, Norway, Deputy Commander of a Canadian-led training center in Afghanistan and Commander of the Mission Support Squadron at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. His recognition includes the Legion of Merit decoration, the Bronze Star Medal, the NATO Medal and the Canadian Operational Commander’s Commendation, among other military awards and decorations. In October 2017, Weaver retired from the Air Force at the rank of Colonel. Currently, he works as a management consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton in the Washington, D.C., area and serves as an education and training consultant for the Air Force Invisible Wounds Initiative.