on January 1, 2008 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Mother overcomes the odds to graduate

“Don’t let anybody or anything deter you from making those dreams.”

— Stacie Thompson, Clemson University graduate

CLEMSON — Stacie Thompson sees the struggle in pregnant teenagers. She’s been there, too.

Through the challenges, Thompson raised her son while earning degrees at area colleges and serving expecting teens in Anderson and Oconee counties. The Seneca resident earned her master’s degree from Clemson University last month.

“I see a lot of kids in the same situation,” said Thompson, executive director of IMPACT!, a non-profit organization established to reduce teen pregnancies. “Not having a lot of the things you wanted in life. I see them there; I’ve been there and I know what it’s like.”

At 19, soon after graduating from Seneca High School, Thompson became pregnant and went on government assistance to help raise her son, Cameron. She didn’t want to stay on assistance forever, however, as she enrolled in Tri-County Technical College when Cameron was three months old.

“I didn’t want to settle for less,” she said. “I wanted to make things better for him.”

Balancing schoolwork with raising a child, Thompson earned her associate’s degree in criminal justice before starting school at Southern Wesleyan University the following year.

“At Southern Wesleyan it was a whole different ballgame,” said Thompson, who worked on a bachelor’s degree in psychology while raising Cameron and waiting tables.

Graduating from SWU in 1997, Thompson eased away from government assistance to become a correctional officer in Walhalla. When she discovered an opportunity to work with youth in Anderson and later Oconee through the Department of Social Services, she found her calling.

“That was such an awesome feat for me,” she said of her time as program coordinator for Teen Companion in both counties.

Thompson is part of the first graduating class in Clemson’s youth development leadership program, and online-based curriculum covering ethics, leadership and strategic planning. Now at IMPACT!, an agency serving youth ages 10-19, Thompson strives to delay and reduce initiation and frequency effects of pregnancy and increase contraceptive use through group and individual sessions with men and women.

Thompson is also celebrating Cameron’s success. The 16-year-old is a Seneca High School student and athlete who is in the Beta Club and received an academic letter on his Letterman jacket.

“He is an awesome young man,” Thompson said. “I’m so blessed. These last two years I’ve been so stressed. It didn’t affect anything he did.”

With three college degrees, a community outreach job and a successful son, Thompson is proof that overwhelming responsibilities can result in success.

“If you have dreams, hold on to those dreams,” she said. “Don’t let anybody or anything deter you from making those dreams.”

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This is the second of three stories in the Daily Journal/Daily Messenger profiling winter graduates of area universities.