As a first-generation student, Desiree Sibrian didn’t always feel like she would succeed in college. After trying college for a few semesters, balancing classes with making a living became too much and she dropped out. But when the pandemic hit, she was ready to make her next move. Desiree knew a college education was the only way she would be able to secure a stable job, increase her earnings, and expand her career opportunities. At Compton College, she found career education pathways with guided support from mentors who empowered her, taught her new ways to learn, and gave her a new perspective on the power of education.
“My dad is an immigrant from El Salvador and my mom struggled with alcoholism,” Desiree says. “I grew up taking care of myself and wondering if I would go to school full-time or have a full-time job.”
A self-proclaimed “amateur hair stylist,” Desiree found Compton College’s Cosmetology Program through an advertisement on social media. The program prepares students to cut and color hair, perform hair treatments, give facials, and eventually pass the state certification exam. The college’s close proximity to her home meant easy commuting, and since courses were available day and night, she would be able to make it work with her work schedule.
“Compton College worked for me because I was able to enroll as a part-time student in evening classes,” Desiree says. “Compton offered flexible options to achieve all my goals.”
At Compton, Desiree took advantage of free student services to accomplish her goals. She received a laptop, calculator, and a hot spot for remote internet access from the Student Equity Program. At the time she didn’t have a computer, so the loaner allowed her to enroll in distance learning classes, maintain good attendance and submit homework online. She also received financial aid and scholarships to help pay for college.
Desiree says her favorite thing about Compton has been the supportive faculty and staff who have boosted her confidence and given her a new perspective on education.
“When I asked my friends at other colleges and universities how their classes were, they seemed to have a different experience than me— and I think mine was better,” Desiree says.
Desiree recalls how one of her favorite professors, Nathan Lopez, a professor in History, spoke to students clearly and directly with an authentic style that motivated and inspired her and her classmates.
“In high school I didn’t think I could do well in school, but at Compton I realized I could do the work and get good grades, which got me engaged and motivated to accomplish more,” Desiree says.
Not only did Desiree accomplish more, but in 2022 she completed four associate degrees in Cosmetology, Elementary Education, Humanities, and Social Sciences. After building the confidence she needed to succeed, Desiree discovered that what she really wanted to do was inspire children the way her Compton professors have inspired her.
Today, Desiree is enrolled in the School of Education at Loyola Marymount, where she is working towards a bachelor’s degree and multisubject teaching credentials. She volunteers in classroom observations at elementary schools and is looking forward to student teaching in her final year. Eventually, Desiree hopes to become a principal who gets families involved in the classroom and education system.
“I want to show children and families from lower-income residences that they have a safe space to advance their learning and be a part of their communities,” explains Desiree.
To students interested in restarting their educations, Desiree says, “It’s ok to start over, wherever you are.”