Kate Thompson (2009-13) has known since she was younger that she wanted to go to medical school and become a doctor. That dream is now becoming a reality as she was accepted into medical school at the University of Michigan and is one step closer to becoming a doctor. After a record-breaking senior season in 2012-13 that saw her establish a new school record with 110 three-pointers, Thompson stepped back from school for a year to study for the MCAT and help with research at the U-M Hospital.
Thompson learned she was accepted to U-M in December and then was fortunate enough to earn two postgraduate scholarships offered through the University of Michigan Athletic Department. She was given the Donald R. Shepherd Senior Scholar Award and the Letterwinners M Club Postgraduate Scholarship.
In addition to starting medical school, Thompson is also getting married on Aug. 30. In this week's Alumni Spotlight, Thompson talks about everything from adjusting to life without basketball to how she found that she was accepted to medical school at U-M.
Q. What have you been up to since graduating from Michigan?
A. I started doing research at the University of Michigan Hospital. That was in the OB-GYN, where I was a research assistant and study coordinator. It was awesome. While I was doing that, I was also coaching girls' freshman basketball at Lincoln High School.
Q. What was a typical day like?
A. I would get up and head to work. I would be in charge of running a study, while also recruiting patients. I had a list of people I would contact to participate in our studies. There was a lot of patient contact. It was awesome. I loved being in the hospital; I learned so much from the doctors each and every day. I learned a lot of new medical terminology, which was great as I get ready for medical school. Right after work, I would go coach a practice. I learned from my mentors here at Michigan, taking a lot of stuff that I learned from Coach Arico and her staff to use every day in practice. After that, I would go home and crash. And then do it all again.
Q. What was it like finding out that you could continue your education at Michigan for medical school?
A. It was unbelievable. They actually played a trick on me. I got an email the morning of Dec. 15, the day we were going to find out if we got in to U-M. The email said that there was a problem with my application and you needed to address it right away. I had to go check in with the admin. There were five other people there dealing with the same issue. They brought us in and said, "Guys, we are really sorry to tell you ... that you were accepted in the Michigan medical school!"
Q. How did you receive your postgraduate scholarships?
A. I applied through the athletic department for two scholarships and was fortunate enough to receive both. One was through the Letterwinners M Club and the other was through Donald R. Shepherd. It has meant the world to me knowing that there are such great groups of people involved in these scholarships. It is unbelievable knowing that Michigan continues to provide me with opportunities to further my studies here. This is beyond where I could see myself when I was a freshman looking ahead.
Q. How long will you be in medical school?
A. I will be in school for four years. After that, I will have between three and four years of residency. Then I will have a potential few years of a fellowship. I will have a lot going on for a while, but school will be done after four years.
Q. What was the hardest thing about basketball being over?
A. I missed playing a ton. That was the hardest thing for me, giving up the competitiveness. I missed games the most. I really missed my teammates. That was actually what the hardest thing was, not having a team to go to in the locker room. You have to find a whole new group of people to de-stress with and spend all your time with. It is hard leaving your team.
Q. Did coaching a team help ease that transition?
A. That definitely helped. I loved the girls I coached and I am going to miss them next year because I won't have time to coach with school starting. Being in the work environment helped too. It is kind of like a team with everyone helping each other. I am sure with medical school starting; I will have that same kind of camaraderie.
Q. What has it been like preparing for your upcoming wedding?
A. I am not a very good planner because while I was playing basketball, it is like you have every minute planned for you. It is awesome. I am so excited. I am getting married Aug. 30, so we are wrapping up the plans. He is a great guy.
Q. How did your time at Michigan prepare you for this next step in life?
A. I think the time management skills you learn are so important, as well as learning how to work with other people. My public speaking and interviewing skills really improved during my time as a student-athlete. But I think mostly learning how to manage my time was most important because I am going to have so much studying to do and not a lot of time during medical school.
Q. What does the University of Michigan mean to you?
A. Michigan is everything. The support system that we have here is amazing. The Michigan tradition is unbelievable. It is so awesome to be able to go back to your alma mater and not just run into teammates, but run into all the people that have been behind you during your four years of college. And you know all those people are still behind you. From my coaches to the entire athletic department to other teams, Michigan is my family.
The recently created Office of Alumni Engagement strives to foster a community, recognize the holistic student-athlete and honor the great Michigan Athletics history. This alumni spotlight illustrates the impact that our alumni are having around the world and how they stay engaged with Michigan.
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