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IU Northwest News

‘I found my voice, my independence, myself’

Alumna Jennifer Thompson credits classmates, colleagues with helping her grow as a writer, painter, leader

Friday Feb 28, 2014

Looking back on her college education at Indiana University Northwest, 32-year-old Jennifer Thompson of Chesterton said it was the connections she made during her time on campus that helped her achieve her goals, and ultimately become the person she is today.

Anyone who knew Thompson, a single mom who graduated in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in English, couldn’t help but notice her passion for getting involved. She played intramural flag football. She joined the Anthropology Club and Connectionz. She served as the assistant editor and eventually the editor-in-chief of Spirits, the literary journal where she poured her heart and soul into creating the best possible book for several years.

During her senior year, she served as president of the Student Government Association (SGA), which led to her service on many committees, including the IU Northwest Council, the Tamarack Planning Committee and the One Book…One Campus…One Community initiative.

Academically, she received multiple scholarships, and made the Dean’s List several times.

She was invited to read her poetry and short stories at conferences and symposiums. The work she read at the Sylvia Plath 2012 Symposium, in Bloomington, was published in IU Northwest’s Plath Profiles.

Following her graduation, Thompson continues to burn the candle at both ends, as they say, with continued involvement in many creative endeavors.

Currently, Thompson works as a special education aide and occasionally substitute teaches in special education. She also began painting in June 2013, having her work discovered at an Arts Festival hosted by a substance abuse treatment facility for young adults.  

“I chose to exhibit there as I felt it was a good cause and I've always been a very philanthropic person, especially when it comes to young people,” Thompson said. “There were a group of artists who owned galleries who came to support a few of their own and check out the local talent. They refused to believe I had only been painting for three months and insisted I place work in their galleries.”

Thompson’s work has since been displayed at Paul Henry’s Art Gallery, South Lake Artists Co-op, and the Cornerstone Gallery. She has also exhibited with 119th Street Artists where she serves as treasurer. 

Thompson’s educational journey was not always easy. And, it took a while. Her education was interrupted by a car accident in which she sustained severe injuries and needed time off to tend to her health and family. When she returned, she took one class at a time in order to spend time with her two young children.

“I had also heard that the English program had exemplary professors,” she said, “something I was not disappointed by.”

Thompson said that what she appreciated most about IU Northwest were the people who helped her along. The list includes administrators, professors and students, who all pushed her, in their unique ways, to follow her passions.

“They believed in me and, in turn, I believed in myself,” she said.

Thompson continues to write and is working on a book called Skyscraper Avalanche. This spring, her work and an interview will be featured on in the “Prodigy” section. More of Thompson’s work can also be viewed at

“At IU Northwest,” Thompson said, “I really found my voice, my independence, myself.”

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