May 10, 2022
Thompson’s First Lecture
As a sophomore, Andrew Thompson watched online presentations of First Lectures, given by CMU graduating seniors. Inspired by Dr. Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture, these talks provide unique insight into what other students learned about themselves at CMU—and what they hoped to pass on to other Tartans.
“One of the main things I heard is that everyone has their own story to tell. There’s no right way to be a CMU student,” says Thompson.
When Thompson himself was nominated to write a “First Lecture,” he was surprised. “I was pretty sure nobody wanted to hear me speak,” he quipped. But after reading the application and thinking more about what he could share, he realized that he had a unique journey that could inspire others.
“I did have a difficult time trying to adapt to college life. I wanted to reassure others who were having a hard time adjusting and let them know that not everybody is perfect out of the gate.”
Thompson adds that as a Black student, he didn’t always feel represented within the CMU community. “I didn’t see a lot of familiar-looking faces. But I wanted to understand and connect to my identity.” He joined the Diversity Committee to get more involved and to help shape the cultural and diversity narratives within the school. He emerged as an involved leader, ready to share his experiences with others.
Thompson’s biggest concern about presenting his speech was that most of the audience wasn’t familiar with his struggles. But he understood that everyone has a unique journey—and no one’s is typical.
As he wrote his own story to share, Thompson echoed past “First Lectures” in asserting the importance of forging his individualized journey—by taking advantage of all of the resources available at CMU. He mentions that his experiences at CEE taught him how to connect and interact with others. “I learned people-focused engineering. Classes always had me thinking about the audience I was talking to, which is beneficial in civil engineering when you’re working to help people.”
Following his graduation, Thompson will relocate from his home state of New Jersey to the Pittsburgh region to work as a strategy analyst for Deloitte Consulting.