Voicing Community Needs

While many people hate the idea of spending time in another meeting, Justin Puckett ’20, Evergreen’s current student trustee, thrives in environments where ideas are heard and action is taken.

Governor's mixer

Puckett (far left) at the Governorʼs Mansion Mixer, a special Return to Evergreen event.

“I have a passion for representing the needs of my community,” he said. “It’s something I can bring to the Evergreen Board of Trustees, and I get to learn more about the government of a state college.”

A student trustee has time at every board meeting to voice student concerns, such as the desire to add more accessible first-year housing on campus. To gather those perspectives, Puckett makes it a point to be available and engaged.

“The biggest responsibility of being a student trustee is giving a voice to the students,” he said. “That means going to events, talking one-on-one, and being accessible.”

Puckett has previously served on Evergreen’s Services and Activities Fee Allocation Board, the Police Services Community Review Board, and the search committee for the director of Student Activities. He is a representative on the Geoduck Student Union and a former resident assistant. Puckett’s academic focus is on law and public policy.

In the classroom, Puckett’s programs, such as American Crime and Punishment, and Evolution of Constitutional Law, have helped him understand the nuances of the court system. Opportunities to learn first-hand, such as participating in a moot court case last winter, have allowed him to hone his debate and research skills. Puckett delivered a winning argument, convincing his peers the juvenile in question was innocent.

Soon Puckett will begin an internship with the city of Olympia’s prosecutor’s office to deepen his knowledge of the criminal justice system. His goal is to become a criminal defense lawyer.

“I know that low-income people have a harder time finding and retaining lawyers, they’re often caught in legal battles, and can sometimes be targeted because of their low-income status. I plan to offer a lot of pro-bono services,” he said.

Puckett says he’s grown at Evergreen and is grateful for the opportunities to serve. He values Evergreen’s innovative education, interdisciplinary approach, and faculty who push him to do his best.

“You need to be assertive in the real world,” said Puckett. “Seminar is good practice for that; sometimes you have to work harder to have your voice heard.”