Transgender SDSU student to be honored for outstanding academic record
Father, stepmother refused to help with college
Published Thursday, 29-Apr-2010 in issue 1166
Transgender San Diego State University (SDSU) student, Jessica Compton, will graduate in May as the first Transgender student to receive the honor of Outstanding Baccalaureate Candidate of the Computer Science Department – and is graduating Summa Cum Laude.
“I will be first in line of all the undergraduates to get my diploma,” Compton said. Professors in the Department of Computer Science voted to award Compton with the honor in recognition of her excellent academic record.
“One professor told me they voted for me because I was a reliable student and high in character,” Compton said.
Compton’s professors beamed about Compton’s skill, talent and accomplishments.
“Graduating at the top of one’s class is an extraordinary accomplishment and given the challenges she faced, it is even more remarkable,” SDSU Professor Alan Riggins said. “I am proud to have been her advisor and I believe that Jessica is a wonderful role model for GLBT youth.”
Computer Science Professor Ivan Bajic said Compton was a remarkable student during her time in Bajic’s Introduction to Robotics class.
“She really set herself a part as one of SDSU’s top students,” Bajic said. “She would get 100 percent on exams and projects and would complete the projects long in advance.” “The projects difficult and required microchip firmware programming and electrical wiring,” he added.
Compton, a 27-year-old MTF transgender woman, is originally from Texas and was born into a Navy family. While at the University of Houston, Compton’s father and stepmother learned of her transgender status and refused to financially support her, forcing Compton to drop out.
“They thought I was going to, if I continued down the path I chose, become depressed and commit suicide like so many other people they knew,” Compton said, noting her biological mother is very supportive.
Compton seemed cautiously optimistic about her father and step mother’s appearance at her graduation.
“It would be a step in the right direction for them to accept me and who I am,” Compton said. “[If they come to my graduation] they can be proud of me for being who I am and to see all of SDSU support me saying, ‘It’s not a big deal.’”
After Compton dropped out of the University of Houston, she moved to San Diego with a brother and the two planned to live together. When Compton arrived to downtown San Diego, her brother dropped her off at a seedy motel.
“She was a young, naïve transgirl all alone in a bad part of an unfamiliar city, with no friends,” Compton’s partner Jamie Starr said. Compton currently lives with Starr in an Orange County suburb of Huntington Beach from which Compton commutes to SDSU each week.
Compton’s commencement is scheduled at Viejas Arena on Sunday, May 23 at 1 p.m. Viejas Arena is located on SDSU’s campus at 5500 Canyon Crest Drive. For more information on the commencement ceremony, visit http://arweb.sdsu.edu/es/commencement/index.html.