Judy Kuster is 2017 Distinguished Alumna

Judy Kuster with her 2017 Distinguished Alumna Award
Judy Kuster with her 2017 Distinguished Alumna Award.

Judith (Maginnis) Kuster is the recipient of the 2017 Bethany Lutheran College Distinguished Alumna Award. Judy was born on February 23, 1944, to Francis and Mary Maginnis in Madison, Wisconsin. She has one brother, Richard H. Maginnis who is also a Bethany alumnus. Judy was a longtime member of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Madison, Wisconsin, where she was baptized and confirmed. She is married to Bethany Professor Emeritus, Dr. Tom Kuster. The couple was married at Our Saviour’s on June 9, 1967, and will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this year. The Kusters have nine children, and twelve grandchildren, of which many are Bethany alumni. They also have sponsored a refugee family from Vietnam in 1975, an immigrant from Cameroon in 2010, and provided room and board for two students who attended Martin Luther Academy in New Ulm, Minnesota. These special people are considered as family. The Kusters currently live in New Ulm and are members of Peace Lutheran Church in North Mankato, Minnesota.

Kuster is a graduate of Bethany Lutheran High School in 1962, and attended one year at Bethany Lutheran College before transferring to University of Wisconsin-Madison. At Wisconsin, she earned a bachelor of science in speech pathology, and then went on to earn a master of science in speech pathology in 1967. Her first job, after graduate school, was as a speech-language pathologist in Lake Mills, Wisconsin, and then in 1968 she became a clinical supervisor at the University of Wisconsin. After a year working at the University of Wisconsin, she worked in various schools in cities throughout Michigan as a speech pathologist helping students with reading and speech. Following her time in Michigan, she moved to Southern Minnesota, and worked in New Ulm, Winthrop, and then for Brown County as a speech clinician. It was then in 1987 she began her career as a longtime instructor and professor in speech and communication disorders at Mankato State University (which is now called Minnesota State University- Mankato). Also, in 1987 she received her master of science in adult counseling at Mankato State University.

It was during her time at Mankato State that Judy became nationally recognized for her work with speech disorders. She has written for numerous professional publications, and been referenced in many publications on a local, regional, state, and national level. She also has been a keynote speaker at several national conferences focused on speech pathology and disorders, and led several workshops over the years helping others in the speech disorders field. She also has developed and chaired many speech disorders committees and conferences. Most notably is the International Stuttering Awareness Day Online Conference, which is celebrated on October 22 every year. She has also led several research projects in speech pathology and disorders at Minnesota State University, and secured several grants at the institution for communication disorders.

The 2017 Bethany Distinguished Alumna Award is just one of several awards Judy has received over the years. She has been recognized on local, regional, state, national, and even international levels. In 1985 she received the Minnesota Clinical Service Award, which is awarded for outstanding achievement in human communication and science disorders. She received the Service to Mankind Award in 1987 from the New Ulm Sertoma Club, and the Region IX Minnesota – Roger Wolff Achievement Award in 1989. In 2002 she was a Named Fellow by the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association. She was awarded the Distinguished Contributor Award in 2003 by the International Fluency Association, and the Outstanding Contribution Award recipient in 2007 by the International Stuttering Association. In 2009, the National Stuttering Association inducted Judy in their hall of fame for the tremendous impact she has had on those with speech impairment.