University of Southern Mississippi Professor Cyndi Huff Gaudet employs a simple, yet inspiring, mantra to guide her efforts as chair of the Department of Human Capital Development – “Work Hard, Have Fun, and Make a Difference.”
Her commitment to that theme paved the way for Gaudet to receive the 2015 Karen Sock Woman of the Year Award, presented last weekend at the Success Women’s Conference in Biloxi.
The award, presented by Lighthouse Business & Professional Women, was renamed after Sock this year in recognition of her career achievements, community leadership and mentorship of women on the Coast. The coveted award recognizes a single woman each year for career experiences, personal achievements, education, and community contributions. The selection committee is anonymous.
“Achievements are made possible by the people with whom you surround yourself,” said Gaudet, who works at the USM Gulf Park campus in Long Beach. “I’ve been blessed with incredible family and colleagues whose positive influence inspire me to be a better person. This award affirms for me personally that hard work pays off, that it is possible to have fun at work and enjoy what you do, and that our work at Southern Miss impacts others far beyond our campus community.”
The judges selected one winner in each of seven categories: Medical, Nonprofit, Corporate, Government/Military, Education, Entrepreneur, and Young Careerist (ages 21-35). Forty finalists were nominated for the Woman of the Year Award, including Gaudet’s colleague, Dr. Heather Annulis, a professor in the Department of Human Capital and Development. Gaudet was selected as the winner in the Education category, before capturing the overall prize.
A native of Natchez, Miss., Gaudet makes her home in Pass Christian, Miss. She earned her Bachelor of Science (1976) and master’s (1988) degrees from Southern Miss, and her doctorate (1991) from Louisiana State University. She has spent the past 19 years at Southern Miss where she served on the Engineering Technology faculty as program coordinator, and also as director of the Jack and Patti Phillips Workplace Learning and Performance Institute, before assuming her current position.
In 2004, Gaudet was instrumental in getting the Department of Human Capital Development’s degree programs moved to the Gulf Park campus to take advantage of the Gulf Coast’s robust business climate.
Gaudet is a volunteer for the Hancock County Habitat for Humanity, United Way leader for the USM Gulf Park campus, served on the grant committee at First Baptist Church Long Beach post-Katrina, and is a founding board member and past president for the Gulf Coast Chapter of the American Society for Training & Development.
“Dr. Gaudet contributes much to the Gulf Coast community, the university community, and the field of human capital development,” said Kady Pietz, executive assistant to the Vice President at Gulf Park. “We were thrilled to hear Dr. Gaudet announced as the 2015 Success Women’s Conference Woman of the Year, as she’s so very deserving of this honor.”