Empowering First-Generation College Students and Shaping Futures

10/12/2023 Alumni Spotlight

In higher education, there exist leaders who illuminate the path of inspiration for future generations. Thompson is a shining exemplar, whose transformative journey from a first-generation college student herself to a fervent champion for others like her is extraordinary. 

Thompson’s education at McMurry was marked by dedication and involvement. She was a member of Alpha Psi Alpha and, in her senior year, held the position of President. Additionally, she spent all four years running on the cross-country team. She explains that her experiences at McMurry laid the groundwork for her career in student affairs and higher education. 

Thompson’s journey into her current profession was kindled during her time as a Resident Advisor (RA) at McMurry. The dean at the time played a pivotal role in inspiring her to pursue a master’s program in student affairs. Encouraged by the support and mentorship she received at McMurry, Thompson obtained her master’s degree and her Ph.D. in Student Affairs and Higher Education.  

“I wouldn’t have gone to graduate school had it not been for my network at McMurry,” says Thompson. 

Thompson’s own experience from being a first-generation college student, navigating the unfamiliar terrain of higher education, to becoming a dedicated advocate, is a testament to the transformative power of mentorship and support. Jessica’s work centers around TRIO programs that are dedicated to increasing access to higher education for economically disadvantaged students. She spends her days providing lifelines to those striving for a better future through education. 

Throughout her 20-year career in student affairs, Thompson’s greatest reward has been witnessing her students’ success. She remains connected with many of her former students, celebrating their achievements and milestones with them.  

One of Thompson’s most significant accomplishments was obtaining her Ph.D. Higher education was not a norm in her family, she stands as a symbol of what determination and perseverance can achieve.  

Looking ahead, Thompson aspires to continue progressing in her field, all the while remaining dedicated to her mission of supporting and empowering students. Her story serves as an enduring source of inspiration, reminding us that anyone can overcome obstacles and make a lasting impact on the lives of others.