Whitney Puckett ('11) | Advertising/PR
from Melbourne, Fla.
Extracurricular activities: Advertising/PR Club, Event Planning, Morris & Mitchell Student Run Ad/PR Agency, Virtuous African Heritage Sisterhood, ACU Public Relations Intern, Resident Assistant in Sikes Dorm
Biggest surprise about ACU: The biggest surprise for me was the diversity at ACU. You can find just about any believer from any walk of life. It has inspired my faith and taught me the importance of embracing different perspectives.
Advice to incoming students: Don't plan your life before you get to college. God has phenomenal way of creating purpose when you least expect it.
When most people think of fashion, they see expensive designer clothing showcased on a runway set in New York or L.A. Glamour is the word of the hour - everyone is either famous or beautiful, and there is not so much as a hint of poverty, catastrophe or despair.
Whitney Puckett would like to challenge those people with a different vision.
I couldn't go to Haiti, but I made a real impact, just from being where I am.
Over the past three years, she has helped produce several fashion shows to raise money for such causes as disaster relief for earthquake victims in Haiti. She uses models from ACU and presents the shows on campus. She invites other ACU non-profit groups to sell their merchandise at her shows. And each show has a purpose: to raise money for people in need.
Using God's gifts
"It's a way you can help a cause without getting a passport," she says. "It's being able to use my gift to make a difference."
Whitney sees ACU as the perfect place to launch a service project that features fashion and ministry in an unexpected combination.
"There is such a great community service environment on this campus," she says. "To bring ministry and fashion together is a really innovative thing to witness, especially here, because it's a very open environment where service and creativity are welcome."
She notes that fashion often has negative connotations, particularly in a community that is trying to distance itself from mindless materialism. But Whitney is convinced her passion for style can be used in the service of God's kingdom.
"The fact that you can use fashion to help others - not just the people next door, but also people in other countries - makes a difference," she says. "Fashion is so often categorized as a shallow industry, very fickle and worldly. But being able to advance God’s work and mix it with fashion, which is something a lot of people are interested in, changes the whole dynamic."
Skills learned in JMC
Her first show, which featured Asian fashion via the Japanese brand Cocolulu, helped raise funds for the Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation. Two other shows, Project Revive and Project Equilibrium, raised more than $1,000 for Mobile Medical Disaster Relief to help earthquake victims in Haiti. Whitney helped plan the events, organize local sponsors, work with the media, and served as liaison with the university. She attributes much of her success to the training she received as a JMC major.
"I couldn’t have done it without the skills I’'ve learned at ACU," she says. "These shows would not be as professional if it weren't for the skills we learned here. Video and photography and working with media, which was a foreign language to all of us, just comes naturally now."
For Whitney, part of the shows' appeal is that they make mission work not only possible, but accessible. Instead of simply wishing they could help, people can come to one of her shows and know they've made a real contribution to a worthy cause.
"It's such a satisfying feeling to know I can make a difference," she says. "I couldn't go to Haiti, but I made a real impact, just from being where I am. I think as Christians we sometimes don't realize we can do that. As a child, I always thought the way to minister to people in other countries was to go to them. But it doesn't have to be only that way."
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