Alumni Perspective: Autumn Puckett


Degree and graduation year: Bachelor of Arts in Law and Society, May 2014

Current hometown: San Antonio, TX

Current career and workplace: I have worked as a clerk for a business and probate law attorney in downtown San Antonio for more than a year. I took the Texas bar in July 2017. My intent is to practice probate law upon passing the bar.

What does a typical workday look for you? 

My current duties as a clerk mainly consist of assisting the attorneys in the office and processing probate matters from start to finish. My workday regularly includes meeting with clients; submitting wills to the probate office; researching and pulling property deeds; constructing all related court documents, depending on the type of administration at hand; communicating with clients regarding heirs and beneficiaries within a will; attending court hearings for both dependent and independent probate matters; and preparing and filing new deeds at the property records office once the matter is complete. Once I pass the bar, I will take on even more responsibilities as an attorney.

How did you get into the field you are currently working in? 

From a very young age, I have always had a curiosity about law. You would regularly find me watching shows about court cases, forensic sciences, and unsolved crimes. While I fully intended to complete my bachelor’s in law and seek a law degree in order to practice family law, it was a particular course at Penn State World Campus that changed my life’s course. I took a class called “The Society of Aging,” and my project assignment was to visit and observe patients in a dementia home. In speaking with the families and learning that the elder community is sorely underrepresented, I decided that I would enter the field of probate and focus my study in elder law in order to assist those in our communities who are seemingly forgotten.

How has Penn State World Campus impacted your career?

My degree in Law and Society with Penn State World Campus was a perfect stepping stone to law school. I learned many basics of law like how to ‘brief’ a case and the importance of being able to argue the same point in two completely opposite ways. By the time I entered my first year of law school, I was well ahead of my classmates who completed degrees that did not assist them in any way throughout their time in law school. My Penn State World Campus degree was instrumental not only in laying a foundation for law and how to start thinking like a lawyer, but also in my career path within the law field.

What were some of the challenges you faced when you were a World Campus student? How did you overcome these challenges? 

When I first started the program in 2010, my family was stationed in Georgia. I had been working full-time for about 4 years and raising two young children, so an online degree was necessary. My husband traveled frequently for military-related training all over the country and abroad so I had to juggle my work schedule, the kids’ schooling, and keeping up with my studies. In 2011, my husband was called up to Afghanistan and decided it was best for me to move back home to Texas with my children. The obvious emotional and physical strain was present during that time and until his return in 2013. Thankfully, unwavering support from family, friends, and my Penn State professors kept me steadfast in my goal. Despite the many hurdles throughout, I am proud to say that I remained on the Dean’s List from the first semester to the last.

Do you stay connected with Penn State? How do you stay connected? 

I absolutely stay connected with Penn State and plan to do so indefinitely. There is a wealth of benefit in doing so, as the alumni network is wonderful. I also have the pleasure of being a Penn State World Campus Alumni Ambassador. It is my joy to be able to share my experiences with prospective students and to honestly tell them how much I enjoyed my journey.

What is some advice that you would give to current World Campus students?

The most complete advice I can give is to stay organized with a daily planner, engage in your courses every single day, and ask for help when you need it!

So much of our lives as homemakers, working parents, or individuals with busy jobs can become chaotic and overwhelming. Adding the stress of completing an undergraduate degree entirely online can seem daunting at first. It is natural for one to forget assignments, forum entries, or even exams when there are surrounding distractions. The effort to maintain focus is even more easily affected because the degree is online and not completed inside a physical classroom that requires our presence.

My organization tactics were instrumental to my successes and maintaining a high G.P.A. throughout my undergraduate degree. I would not begin any semester without first handwriting each course syllabus in its entirety into a daily planner using different colors for each class. I would also be sure to log into my courses every single day, regardless whether assignments were due, to keep the courses constantly in the forefront of my thoughts. I found that if I did not ‘check in’ with my courses, my days of working and raising two young children would seem to run together and I would quite literally forget what day it was!

Due dates for assignments, forum entries, quizzes, and exams for each course will vary and without a daily planner to refer to it was highly likely that I would mix up dates and risk losing valuable points. While the printed syllabus is very helpful on its own, there is nothing better than having one singular location to refer to and seek direction for the day/week/etc. Overall, it is so important to keep our life’s struggles from bleeding into our devotion to obtaining a valued undergraduate education—especially when those successes can lead to even bigger accomplishments, as I have experienced.

Finally, when a student becomes overwhelmed, it is imperative that he or she speaks with the course professor and seeks guidance or assistance. I cannot express how much my professors helped me throughout this process and I highly recommend seeking help when you need it. There is no shame in asking for help, regardless of our age or occupation. Penn State professors and staff really do care and want you to succeed.

Penn State World Campus truly offers the benefit of an online education with the impact of in-person attention and support. When you proudly walk across that stage for your diploma as I did, you will feel just as connected to the campus, its staff and professors, and our Nittany Lions as any other student.