Edmonds Community College has named Mountlake Terrace resident John Jessop the first student representative on its Board of Trustees.
Jessop, 49, will have responsibilities on the board no different than any other trustee with the exception that he recuses himself from decisions concerning human resources, such as tenure, negotiated bargaining agreements, and evaluation of the college president.
“My role of student trustee is to give a first-person accounting, or perspective, on the effects of policy implementation on students,” said Jessop, a Business Administration major who also has a part-time job in the college’s Human Resources department. “I am the voice of the entire student body,” he added.
Jessop’s dual roles in representing Edmonds CC students is even more impressive given that he was diagnosed about three years ago with Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism. “It’s only been in the last few years where I have been able to have conversations publicly without becoming physically ill,” he said. “I mean, I didn’t communicate until I was 6, and then had to learn behavior therapies.”
Jessop, who has a 3.92 GPA, is a member of a student club where students with Asperger’s help each other navigate the college experience.
“Having Asperger’s and autism means I have added challenges, but since I’ve been transparent with my diagnosis, it also means I’ve had plenty of people say they are happy to help me,” Jessop said. “If it wasn’t for the resources and accommodations that Edmonds Community College has made available to me, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
The practice of having a student trustee has been in place at four-year universities in Washington for a number of years. In early 2012, the state Legislature passed a bill to have the practice apply to the state’s 34 community and technical colleges. Bellevue College was the first to create a student trustee seat; Edmonds CC is now the second.
“This is truly historic for the college and something students have advocated for,” said Wayne Anthony, director of Edmonds CC’s Center for Student Engagement and Leadership.
The Edmonds CC Board of Trustees approved to add a sixth trustee in November 2012, and Governor Jay Inslee appointed Jessop in July 2013. The position is for one year.
Jessop is also administrative liaison for the college’s student government, the Associated Students of Edmonds Community College. He plans to transfer to either the University of Washington or Washington State University following his studies at Edmonds CC.
Edmonds Community College averages 12,000 students per quarter and offers 75 associate degrees and 51 professional certificates in 33 programs of study.