As the most recent quarterly winner of a campus parking space for participating in the Medical Center’s blood drive, Mary E. Thompson says she enjoys getting to park near the vice chancellor.
As the most recent quarterly winner of a campus parking space for participating in the Medical Center’s blood drive, Mary E. Thompson says she enjoys getting to park near the vice chancellor.
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People of the U: Mary E. Thompson

Published on Friday, November 8, 2019

By: Bruce Coleman

When it comes to attracting top-flight employees to the Medical Center, Mary E. Thompson says the institution is an “easy sell” at career fairs throughout the state.

“As an organization, we are beloved because of our brand and the presence that we have in the community,” said Thompson, talent acquisition coordinator who has worked at the Medical Center for four years. “I just tell people that UMMC is one of the largest employers in the state of Mississippi, we have the only children’s hospital, UMMC is the only academic medical center in Mississippi as well.

“Usually after I’ve said all that, they’ll tell me they’ve already considered coming to UMMC for school, or they’ve had a relative who was serviced at UMMC and had received great patient care, or they, themselves, had been a patient here.

“UMMC sells itself.”

A Jackson native, Thompson grew up firmly entrenched in the Medical Center’s orbit. She went to Murrah High School, directly across Woodrow Wilson Avenue from the main Jackson campus, and attended Jackson State University, where she graduated with honors, earning a bachelor’s degree in English. She then earned her master’s degree in public administration - with a concentration in human resources - at Belhaven College.  

What hasn’t been as easy to sell at UMMC is participation in the quarterly blood drive on campus, sponsored by Mississippi Blood Services. That’s no fault of Thompson’s, though: Her enthusiasm for donating life-giving blood is a family attribute instilled in her by her father.

“I’ve donated (in the quarterly blood drive) a few times. I try to give fairly regularly.” Thompson said. “It’s kind of my dad’s lifestyle to give blood – I’ve even seen him in the house with a coffee mug that shows he’s given two gallons over his lifetime. He also has a plaque which he received later documenting his donation of 20 gallons of blood.

“We would go together to give blood when I was in college, and sometimes we’d go out to eat afterward or beforehand.”

She said she now tries to donate a couple of times a year. “It’s convenient the Mississippi Blood Services folks come to campus and I’m able to give blood that way,” she said.

Coming to campus has gotten a little more convenient for Thompson, too: After participating in the last drive, her name was selected at random to receive a parking space on campus for the current quarter. She quickly noticed the space is in the vice chancellor’s tiny lot adjacent to the Verner Holmes Learning Resource Center.

Although she’s used her new space three times already, Thompson said she hasn’t seen Dr. LouAnn Woodward yet. But there’s a good reason for that.

“I’ve seen her car and noticed she comes to work pretty early,” Thompson said. “She’s gotten to work before me each of the three times.”

But she said she’ll be ready for when she has the opportunity to encounter the institution’s leader.

“I will probably ask her how she’s doing and tell her I read her newsletter – or I try to if time allows,” Thompson said. “I’m appreciative that she takes the time to answer our questions.”

Were she to have the opportunity to convince her colleagues and friends to participate in the next campus blood drive, Thompson said the opportunity to park near the vice chancellor wouldn’t even be part of her gameplan.

“I would just say you don’t have to be clinically trained to save lives – just one donation can save three lives,” she said. “I think it’d disheartening that there are always critical shortages of some type, especially for relatives of patients who may not, for whatever reason, be able to donate.

“We’re blessed that we’re able to narrow the gap between the available blood supply and the blood supply needed to give a recipient more time to spend with their loved ones.”

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