Drawing and sketching was something Patricia Thompson liked doing for fun in high school, but it also was an outlet.
“It was an escape for me from stuff that was happening to me,” said the sophomore Graphic Design major.
Thompson’s mother was suffering from brain cancer, and was unable to care for herself or her daughter very well. They ended up getting evicted from their home.
“I didn’t have a place to live and the military was kind of my only option,” she said. “But it’s one of the best things that ever happened to me,” calling it one of the most adventurous times of her life.
GRAPHIC DESIGN BOOT CAMP
Thompson was 19 when she joined the Army and was stationed at National Security Agency at Fort Gordon, Georgia, from 2011 to 2013.
“Graphic design was something fun I did in high school, but once I joined the military, I was trained professionally,” she said. She describes the training program as ‘a roller coaster.’
“It was a 16-week course jammed into a month and it was very difficult,” Thompson said. “Our first project was to do a grid sketch of our own faces. Professors would measure with protractors, and if you got less than an 80 percent, you would get kicked out of the course.”
Thompson succeeded, and soon was designing posters, logos, pamphlets, training materials and books.
“Some of it was sensitive material that you can’t outsource, you had to make it in-house,” she said. “We had a very large print press that was an enormous piece of equipment that I also learned how to troubleshoot because of the cost of repair if it broke.”
One design she is especially proud of is a logo that was stamped on a coin to be given out as an award.
“They gave me the 001-numbered coin to keep,” she smiled.
AROUND THE WORLD
Thompson’s designs were so good, she was accepted to work for the White House Communications Agency in Washington D.C. from 2013 to 2016. She was a multimedia illustrator in the digital image center, and while there she was named Junior Service Member of the Year.
She also worked an audio technician, and that’s how she met President Barack Obama.
“I ran the sound board at all presidential events,” she said. “I set up the mic he spoke into and controlled the sound and did a lot of the lighting.” Thompson said the president was 'very nice and relaxed' when she met him.
She traveled a lot, visiting Texas, Illinois, Kentucky, Chicago, California, Colorado, Maryland and Washington State. Assignments also took her to the South African city of Cape Town, and to Central America for a celebration of the newly expanded Panama Canal.
“I was there for the opening of the canal, and that was really cool,” she said.
In addition to her studies, Thompson takes care of her son, Theodore, who turns 2 in April. She and her husband, Shane, just bought a house in South Philadelphia that they share with a dog and a cat.
Thompson receives tuition aid through Veterans Affairs, and has a Yellow Ribbon Scholarship through Moore. She’s been on the dean’s list every semester since she came to Moore in the fall of 2016.
“I went to high school across the street at Hallahan,” she said. “I chose Moore because I went to an all-girls high school and I understood and appreciate the effect of having an all-female community.”
While she was trained in graphic design in the military, she felt there was more to learn.
“I wanted to better my design skill set,” she said. “I want to become an expert in my field, and the best way to do that is by learning from instructors at Moore, who for the most part, currently work in their fields and have all this experience to draw from.”
Thompson would like to be a graphic designer, but her ultimate goal is to teach.
“I really like teaching people and engaging them,” she said. “I like helping them to become better versions of themselves.”