Alumni Spotlights

Alumni Spotlights

Kamali Thompson, Class of ’12, Bachelor of Science, College of Science & Technology: Biology major, Psychology minor, Pre-Medicine track.
Interview by A. Musu Davis, Senior Honors Program Academic Advisor

Current location: Teaneck, NJ
Current position: Olympic hopeful & medical/graduate student

After a remarkable academic and athletic career as an undergraduate, former standout fencer Kamali Thompson is taking the idea of scholar-athlete to a new level.  This highly-decorated athlete excels inside and outside the arena as she pursues her graduate studies in medicine and business while training to earn a spot on the 2016 Olympic team.

All About Kamali

The Scholar-Athlete.  Try this elite graduate student-athlete’s routine on for size:

Morning fencing drills for 2.5 hours.  1.5 hour commute to campus. 2 medical school classes. 1.5 hour commute home.  Group fencing sessions for 3.5 hours or workout with a trainer.  Study for medical school.  Sleep. Repeat.

Kamali began studying at Rutgers New Jersey School of Medicine in fall 2012. After two years, she began her Master of Business Administration at Rutgers Business School, which she completed this fall in the midst of her intense training season.  In the spring she will focus on competing to earn a space on the Olympic team, then finishing her final year of medical school next academic year.

As an undergraduate, she earned distinction in her major while competing at the highest level in her sport.  She graduated as the winningest sabre fencer in Temple history (175 – 48 record), a two-time Temple University Female Athlete of the Year awardee, and multiple NCAA All-American honors.

Fun Facts. Kamali started fencing in high school, and has only been actively competing for nine years (which is not very long compared to her international competitors).  She has traveled to 14 different countries through fencing competition.  Italy is by far her favorite: she has visited three times, but missed all of the tourist attractions except for the Leaning Tower of Pisa (and of course she got the requisite snapshot of herself holding the building up with her hands).

The sabre was added to women’s Olympic competition in 2004.  Kamali’s selection for the team would come with a chance to make history, putting her among the first in the world to compete with her implement at that level of international competition. 

Fond Memories of Honors.  Moving into 1300 Residence Hall freshman year as part of the Honors LLC and Welcome Week activities was memorable.  “When I went on my recruiting visit to Temple, I met all the people in Honors.  That was the March before school started.  Then when I came to move in, with that big orange bin, I saw everyone – like Amanda, I saw Ruth – and I was like ‘oh, hey!’ and they actually remembered me!  And I was thinking, this is a really good sign, that I chose the right school.”

She also enjoyed that “everyone (in Honors) seemed really smart, but not too smart. They weren’t show-offs or things like that. They were all just normal, smart people.” 

One of her favorite classes was Honors Introduction to Psychology taught by Honors associate director Amanda Neuber Haggerty.  She liked it so much she added a psychology minor to her already demanding pre-medicine track.

What’s Next.  Kamali looks forward to a breakout performance in her upcoming competitions.   After training consistently toward her goal, she is excited for the day when she “wake[s] up… feels 100 percent confident and just knows it’s going to be a good day, and wins.” Kamali finished in second place 3 times at national competitions last season.  This season, she has 2 national and 3 international competitions on her slate before the Olympic Games, including St. Louis, Missouri and Athens, Greece. 

She graduates with her MBA in spring 2016, and after the Olympics, she returns to medical school for her final year to prepare for a career in sports medicine. 

Learn more about Kamali’s road to Rio and track her progress on her webpage.

Catch up with other Alumni spotlights:

Angela WashkoArtist, BFA '09

Gina Hoch-StallArtistic Director of RealLivePeople Dance Company, Dance & Psychology '10