Alana Compton ’23 has been named the winner of the 2023 Robert L. Hill Distinguished Senior Award. The award, one of the University of Lynchburg’s highest honors for undergraduate students, was presented on Friday, April 14, during the annual academic awards ceremony.
Compton is a Westover Honors Fellow and a double major in psychological science and criminology with a minor in criminal forensics. In an essay submitted to the selection committee, the Warrenton, Virginia, resident wrote of her ultimate goal: “When I graduate, I want to become a published author.”
Compton wrote about how she’s been writing stories since elementary school, but only recently — while at Lynchburg — discovered a love for scientific research.
“It started when I took Research Methodology, the prerequisite for the senior capstone in psychology,” she wrote. “It was the first time I wrote an entire scientific APA research paper on my own, using gathered information and data analysis to form a study.
“I fell in love with the process of research and seeing how all the parts come together, piece by piece, to create the paper. Since then, research has been a source of joy through college.”
This past year, Compton studied crime victims for her senior capstone and honors research projects. She presented her research, “The Mind and Crime: Criminal Victimization, Age, and Psychological Wellbeing,” at the 2023 Student Scholar Showcase, held April 5 at Lynchburg.
“I decided that I wanted to study victims of crimes, as they have become an overlooked group within recent years,” she said. “Combining both of my interests in psychology and criminology, I have examined how criminal victimization and age at the time of victimization influence psychological health, in addition to reviewing how resilience plays a role in this relationship.”
While at Lynchburg, Compton had internships with the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office and McGurk House, a local senior living facility in Lynchburg.
On campus, she has been a Wilmer Writing Center tutor and a Link Leader Coordinator with the Advising and Academic Resource Center. She has been an officer or chair for Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority, Alpha Phi Sigma Honor Society, Psi Chi Honor Society, and the student judicial board.
“Undergraduate studies at the University of Lynchburg have been busy, and difficult, and stress-inducing, but they have also been an irreplaceable experience that has opened up so many opportunities for me that I never thought I would have,” Compton wrote to the committee.
“That is something that I will be forever grateful for, and, when I graduate and become a published author, I will never forget the school that prepared me to be able to do that.”
In addition to Compton, finalists for the Hill Award included Sam Lipert ’23, a history major and Westover Honors Fellow; William Masselli ’23, an accounting major; Amelia Simmons ’23, a criminology and mathematics major and Westover Honors Fellow; Alla Daniel ’23, an international relations and security studies major; and Ivanna Ortega ’23, an exercise physiology major.
The Robert L. Hill Distinguished Senior Award was established in memory of Hill, who served Lynchburg as a professor and chair of economics from 1965 to 1984. It’s presented to a senior who has excelled in academics, ranked in the top 2% of the graduating class, pursued a challenging and rigorous curriculum, and exhibited involvement in campus and community activities.