From serving as a Freshman Orientation leader to testifying before the Texas Legislature, Dustee Tucker Jenkins ('01) learned leadership skills at UNT that shaped her life. After working in Washington, D.C., she now oversees media relations and communications as a vice president of communication for Target, a corporation with more than 1,700 stores across the nation.
She commutes from Dallas to Target's Minneapolis headquarters each week, with more travel in between. But as a student, it was the distance to her West Texas hometown of Andrews that led her to seek out activities on campus.
"I came to UNT on my own," Jenkins says. "It was a six-hour commute from home, so I knew I wanted to get very involved."
"When I was vice president of the SGA, I was trying to get legislation passed to build the rec center," Jenkins says. "While I knew I'd never get to experience the center as a student, I wanted to leave something behind for others."
She went to Austin to testify before the Legislature in support of building the student recreation center. A few years later, in 2003, the Pohl Recreation Center opened. The center is named for the late Norval F. Pohl, UNT's 13th president and Jenkins' mentor.
After testifying in Austin, she says she caught the political bug. She quickly moved to Washington, D.C., and began a job answering phones in U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's office. Soon, she became the senator's director of public affairs, responsible for media relations and communications. During that time, the U.S. went to war, anthrax was found on Capitol Hill and the Space Shuttle Columbia broke apart over Texas.
"Having a chance to work alongside someone who is such an incredible leader and who is so passionate about her home state -- every day I am thankful for that experience," Jenkins says. "I've learned a lot along the way. You learn in the best of times and the worst of times."
President George W. Bush later appointed Jenkins director of communications in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and after a few years, she found her way back to Texas and landed the job with Target.
"I'm very grateful for my experiences at UNT," Jenkins says. "I've been really fortunate to have amazing experiences, and to grow and develop as an individual and as a communicator."