Sometimes it’s the little things in life that bring us back to college after some time away. For Dr. Deborah Wilson, her educational journey began in 1986 when she was a single mom and could not afford to buy her daughter the tennis shoes she wanted. She says at that time she realized her daughter wanted many things that Wilson could not provide. While her daughter was the inspiration for going back to school, her family encouraged her all the way. She first earned her Bachelor’s Degree followed quickly by her Master’s degree. There was a 20 year lapse between her Master’s degree and PhD and while her family continued their support, her husband, David was her biggest cheerleader.
“I can say without the encouragement of my husband David, I don’t think I would have persevered to complete the doctorate,” said Wilson. “As a first generation college graduate, family encouragement was so important because in a way, I was accomplishing this for all of my family not just for me.”
Before coming to SAU, Wilson obtained her license for psychological testing and is still a Licensed Psychological Examiner in Arkansas. She cares for students from young elementary age to college students. She does testing for various school systems and wrote her dissertation on the Response to Intervention in the Disproportional Placement of African Americans in Special Education. She also is heavily involved in the community with projects such as the Battered Women’s Shelter and Relay for Life.
Besides being a popular advisor at SAU, Wilson is a beloved assistant professor in the Psychology Department. This fall was the beginning of her 10th year as full-time faculty at SAU. Her career here began when she was asked by Cheryl Goodheart to be a guest speaker for a psychology class. Shortly thereafter she was asked to teach Developmental Psychology as an adjunct and has been with SAU ever since. As full time faculty she teaches a wide variety of classes including: undergraduate classes like Psychology: General Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Child Psychology, Child Psychopathology, Psychological Assessment, Statistics, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Educational Psychology, Research Methods I, Honors Seminar and graduate classes such as Counseling: Assessment for Counselors, Special Education Assessment, Psychopharmacology for Counselors, and Statistics for Public Administration.
Wilson cares deeply for her students and it’s evident in her classes, but she always stresses the importance of being on time and being prepared for class. She knows employers expect the same from employees once college has ended. Her students know to come to class on time, have their homework stapled before turning it in and always bring necessary supplies such as a calculator to statistics class. It’s all about preparing students for the real world. Wilson always jokes in class if she was ever to get a tattoo, it would be of the statistics Z-Score formula all students know well when they leave her class.
Wilson loves the fast pace of teaching at the college level and meeting new people.
“I like working with students, learning about their goals and helping make their dreams a reality,” said Wilson. “I also benefit from working in an environment where I am constantly learning.”
Wilson was born in New Orleans, La., but spent the first four years of her life in France where her father was stationed with the Army. When her dad retired, the family moved back to Nevada County, where she finally graduated from high school in Cale, Arkansas. Since neither of her parents obtained a high school degree, they were especially proud of Wilson and her brothers who all earned their diploma.
Growing up Wilson had such a love for animals, she thought she would be a veterinarian, but as she grew older, her plans changed.
“Back in the 70s when I was in high school, I wanted to attend college and ultimately be like Mary Tyler Moore. She had a cool job, lived in a cool apartment, and was an independent woman.”
Wilson now has the cool job, has had a cool apartment and is an independent woman.
Wilson believes everyone should have a big dream and pursue it. She encourages students to pursue their goals and dreams and not let anything stand in their way.