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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas Wiertella April 30, 2024

Phenomenal alumna visits NMU

Rebecca Thompson, an NMU alumna, is helping kick off Women’s History Month by presenting on what it means to be a phenomenal woman, supplemented with her own real world experiences on Thursday, March 10 in Jamrich 1322 at 7 p.m.

“My idea of a phenomenal woman is using your freedom fully,” Thompson said. “She’s not apologetic for standing up, and she’s full of passion.”re-RebeccaThompson

As the executive director at Good Jobs Now, a resource to help find economic and social justice for low income workers of Detroit, Thompson deals with minimum wage and equal pay issues that arise in the city.

Thompson is not new to the scene of public speaking. She has traveled around the world to speak with young women about running for office and changing communities. She has been able to accomplish part of her travels through Elect Her, a nationwide program that encourages young women to run for student office and future political office. Thompson was involved with NMU’s Elect Her program for the last two years and has spoken at several universities around the country.

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Though Thompson typically speaks about political action specifically amongst young women, she has chosen to change topics to something a little closer to home and what it means to be a phenomenal woman.

The encouragement for the topic came about when a few students asked her to come speak. Thompson said though she is still getting her speech organized, she has some key points she wants to touch on, leading with instilled values and articulating ideas about who you are and what you believe in. Thompson said this is important to the development of becoming phenomenal.

Along with strong values, Thompson said finding what you’re passionate about in a career will only be beneficial in the long run.

“Building a career from passion and interests should take priority over focusing on going to school to get a job that gets you a big paycheck,” Thompson said. “Love what you do instead.”

Channeling her past, Thompson said women should not be afraid to go down the untraveled path to chase their dreams.

“I want to encourage more young people to love their careers and run toward what scares them,” Thompson said. “Don’t just survive, push.”

Coming from a low-income family in Detroit, Thompson accomplished several firsts in her family, including graduating college, traveling and becoming involved in the political system. She was involved heavily in campus organizations like the Black Student Union, the Student Leader Fellowship Program and ASNMU. Thompson said her love of being active was a hint at what she wanted to do.

“I didn’t even know I liked community organization until I started getting involved in the Black Student Union,” Thompson said. “They [the organizations] helped me do what I needed and never told me no or that I was dreaming too big.”

This campus involvement transitioned into the real world after she packed up her car in 2006 and headed out to Washington, D.C. Thompson said she looked at the people around her who were starting from scratch while she was soaring thanks to the leadership positions she held while at NMU.

When Thompson left NMU in 2006, she didn’t leave with a degree. She said she chose to take the opportunity to chase her dreams in D.C. rather than stick around for the three credits that stood between her and her diploma. After she left that job, another job was offered to her but was rescinded due to the non-completion of her degree. Thompson came back and graduated with a degree in marketing in 2009.

“It literally came down to one paper on ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ to finish my degree,” Thompson said. “It sounds funny, and it kind of is, but it showed me that it was okay to take the non-linear path and gain valuable experience.”

As she continues to give back to the community that raised her, Thompson said she hasn’t forgotten how instrumental NMU was in shaping her, which is why she has been part of the alumni board for the last six years and has come up every year since her departure in 2006 to talk with students.

“I’m really excited about coming back up to talk about issues so important to me and to have a chance to reach out to more young women,” Thompson said. “It feels like I’ve come full circle.”

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