Alumni Profile: Desiree Compton, B.A. Psychology '06

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

DesireeBe careful what you tell Desiree Compton what she can't do. She's likely to go ahead and do it better than anyone else has ever done it. That was her modus operandi as she worked her way through UAA to graduate with a B.A. in psychology in 2006. But to get to that point, she had to fight her way up from feeling like she was stuck forever at the bottom rung of society's ladder.

Life's circumstances had Compton living on her own and attending an alternative high school in Mat-Su at age 17. At 18 she unexpectedly became pregnant. While struggling with tough decisions about her future, a complete stranger in a Tesoro parking lot looked at the growing belly on her 4'11" petite frame and sneered, "You know you've ruined your life." At that moment, Compton felt like she had to agree with him. Her dreams, which included attending college, seemed completely out of reach.

After confiding her fears to a co-worker, he told her about his friend who was a single mom who studied hard and obtained a master's degree. Compton never met her, but felt inspired by the woman demonstrating it was possible to attend college while being a parent. Once again she had hope.

Compton enrolled in a local community college, and when her son was two years old, she married his father and immediately became pregnant with twin daughters. Compton persisted in her studies even when advised that her goals were too ambitious. She gave birth to healthy girls two weeks before finals and still made the chancellor's list. She returned to class a week after the birth since her husband was perfectly capable and content to tend to their children. However, some of her peers felt the need to express their disagreement with her choice. "You shouldn't be here," they told her. This was just the kind of statement that fired up Compton's burning will to succeed.   

She decided then to quit trying to conform to the norm. Compton says, "Far too often, societal expectations and stereotypical gender roles prevent us from pursuing a path that will truly make us happy. I am glad that I quit listening to everyone around me and learned to trust my instincts."

That confidence, along with encouraging professors like Drs. Markie Blumer and Eric Murphy, lead Compton to continue her education. She graduated in December 2009 with a Master of Science in Clinical Psychology. Her list of accomplishments include winning a cash prize and publication in the 2009 UAA Student Showcase Journal, two published movie reviews for the Journal of Feminist Family Therapy and she is one of the investigators on another collaborative project aimed at honoring feminist mentors for the same journal. That's four publications in one year.
"I feel like my whole life debunks stereotypes," says Compton.

Very excited to make a difference in the community, she decided to accept the position of Community Impact Director for United Way of Mat Su. She feels there is a lot of healing needed out there and that people need to be reminded to not listen to those who diminish their dreams. Compton is thrilled to have the opportunity to give back by helping others find their path to success, and to continue to debunk society's myths and stereotypes. 

Compton says, "The sky is the limit when you believe in yourself. Dream big and don't let those stereotypes determine who you are and where this life takes you!"

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