Fighting for College: Jackie Compean on How She Achieved Higher Education

During her senior year, Jackie Compean had a difficult decision to make – her parents, or college. It was such a point of contention that her father promised to give her a car, all expenses paid, just to stay home. 

“In my mind, being bribed out of an education opportunity is really hurtful,” Compean said. “And some of it, I still deal with it today, and it’s a really tough thing to navigate.” 

Ms. Compean has been a teacher for thirteen years, and has taught microbiology, anatomy and physiology, and pathophysiology. Currently, she teaches on-level, Pre-AP, and AP Biology. To all of her students, she comes off as not only intelligent but well-educated, as if she has been doing this all her life. The real story, however, is very different.

“My dad was a first generation immigrant. His mother was from Germany,” Compean said. “So a lot of his values were about survival.” 

In Compean’s home environment, there was no push for higher education. You had to pass, but you weren’t expected to participate in extracurriculars or go to college.

“He never asked me if I wanted to try a higher level course or anything,” Compean said.    

Dripping Springs is known for its competitive academic community. We have numerous AP classes, several On-Ramps courses, and many opportunities for internships thanks to our Cornerstone program. Many students are pushed toward higher education, but some grow up in circumstances similar to Compean’s. In those cases, a school culture like Dripping Springs’ is their saving grace. 

“In my school, you were expected to go to college. You were meeting with your counselors, trying to figure out your four year plan, thinking about your plans after that,” Compean said. 

Even though she grew up with no emphasis given on education, Compean’s school gave her the curiosity and the drive to pursue college-level education. Compean was in band and was very captivated by her classes, and made the decision to go to college. Unfortunately, her father wasn’t very supportive.

“I think he was going to miss me. I think I was a young female and one of the first in my family to go to college, and it was probably hard for him,” Compean said. 

But Compean had her heart set on Texas State, and nobody was going to stop her. She filled out her entire college application herself and it made her senior year extremely stressful, and although she has sympathy for her father, she does not understand some parts of his perspective. 

“If my child wants to go to a four year university, I’d be like, ‘Okay, let’s go. Let’s get all the paperwork and let’s go,’” Compean said. 

In the end, it was actually her mother who fought for Compean to move out of the house and go to university. 

“She came from a family who valued education, and she definitely had my back on that.” Compean said. 

Even after living in a family that did not share her values, Compean got out of it, and fought hard for what she wanted to do. Now, Compean has three children and is doing what she originally wanted to do in life: teach. Although some of her past still has an effect on her, the payoff was worth it. 

“I don’t know if [my dad] was ignorant, or just sentimental, or something,” Compean said. “But I do know that I’m doing exactly what I wanted to do.”

By Madeline Tredway, Staff Writer

Featured photo by Vasily Koloda on Unsplash

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