Jess Compton came to UNH to play volleyball – despite being recruited by other schools she was drawn to UNH because of its “community” feel. She says that UNH felt “small” and that’s one of the reasons she ultimately wound up here.
Well… since being at UNH Jess has done SOOO much more than play volleyball. However, she always recognizes that was the reason she came here and so she has dedicated herself to her team fully being appointed tri-captain and becoming a real leader on a team that struggled when she first arrived. In her senior season Jess led her team into unfamiliar territory when they returned to the America East tournament for the first time since 2003 (the year before she arrived at UNH). As a player Jess received several honors at UNH, also on the conference level she achieved All-Academic Team and All-Conference Team honors.
And now the rest… Jessica admits that her freshman year was tough. When she arrived at UNH she quickly realized that UNH was not like Chicago (where she hails from). Being multi-racial at UNH meant you stood out. So, partly through necessity, partly through frustration and partly through serendipity Jess quickly emerged as a leader on campus.
Jessica started to attend “Brown-Bag Llunches” sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, she participated in a discussion group set up by the athletics department to discuss issues of multiculturalism and social justice in athletics. In her sophomore year she was invited to attend the MLK Leadership Summit. Jessica credits participation in the MLK summit as a real “eye-opener”. It was an opportunity for her to more intensely examine issues of social-justice while starting to find her own voice. From there things started to move even quicker.
Jessica is pursuing a dual major B.S. in Economics and a B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Women’s Studies. During one of her political science courses she met Professor Marla Brettschneider, whom Jess credits with really pushing her to critically examine her beliefs, question other’s beliefs and ultimately realize that going to college isn’t just about learning “stuff” – more importantly it’s about “learning how to think.”
Jessica has applied these lessons in several arenas. First, as an advisor for Liberal Arts undergraduate students, as an active member of the Diversity Support Coalition, as a student-athlete tutor, as the ONLY student member of the President’s Commission on the Status of People of Color, as a student coordinator of the MLK leadership summit, as a spoken word performer during the annual MLK commemorative address, as an organizer and developer of the Stop-Hat @ UNH campaign, as a student activist standing up for social justice through engaging in dialogue and finally as the head coach of the Seacoast Volleyball Club.
Jessica sees herself teaching in higher education some day, encouraging students to do what she’s doing: “Realizing that someone/thing taught you what you think you know –examine that!” Until then, she is open and excited to see where life takes her.