Public Health Highlight: Officer Thompson

Officer Michael Thompson shares how his public health degree influences his career and overall perspective

Officer Michael Thompson in police uniform, smiling in front of a river.

Pictured in uniform here, Officer Thompson proudly serves the Univeristy's campus community.

Public Health Highlight: Officer Thompson

Officer Michael Thompson shares how his public health degree influences his career and overall perspective

Pictured in uniform here, Officer Thompson proudly serves the Univeristy's campus community.

Officer Michael Thompson in police uniform, smiling in front of a river.

Pictured in uniform here, Officer Thompson proudly serves the Univeristy's campus community.

The School of Public Health is highlighting an exemplary alumnus, Michael Thompson who graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the School of Public Health in 2016. Thompson now serves as Patrol Officer for the University of Nevada, Reno’s Police Department where his approach to daily interactions on and off the campus community are guided by his public health background. In July 2023, Thompson will have served 4 years with the University’s Police Department where he frequently conducts training for emergency preparedness on and off campus. 

Thompson was initially drawn toward higher education by his desire to pursue a career in sports management. After exploring various degrees and programs, he found public health, which has ultimately guided his career into law enforcement. During his time as a student, Thompson gained a lot of experience with community outreach and the importance of communication, especially as it pertains to public safety. “Typically police officers take the criminal justice path. When I tell people I was a public health major they think, ‘oh’ and open up a little bit…My base training comes into play and I can help direct community outreach.” Thompson is particularly proud of his communication skills that assist him with crime prevention and the ability to deescalate situations without use of force. For Thompson, this means mitigating violence, DUI’s, traffic accidents and anything else that could present itself as an emergency or a threat to public safety. 

Muge Akpinar-Elci, Dean of the School of Public Health has seen first hand how Officer Thompson has leveraged his degree. “I had the utmost pleasure of attending one of Officer Thompson’s emergency preparedness training sessions. His passion for educating the community and actively establishing preventative measures to keep our campus safe is impressive to say the least, and it makes me incredibly proud to call him our alumni.” 

Thompson says his experience and interactions with his professors has further solidified that he picked the right path. “I think that I picked a path that fits me. I had great camaraderie with my professors…The way that professors related to us made it fun…You bond with the instructors and they make you want to go into that world.” Thompson also believes maintaining the same routines he created during his time at the University have heightened his accountability and keep him focused while out in the field. 

Jokingly, Officer Thompson’s advice to current and future students within the School of Public Health is to, “Finish your degree quicker than I did!” But also emphasized the importance of a good routine, being proactive rather than reactive when serving the community, connecting with other students and faculty and most importantly, “be human.”

To see what other opportunities are available in public health, visit the School of Public Health website. 

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