Michael Thompson’s determination infuses everything he does: music, leadership, and teaching. Passionate about education, he undertook a rigorous curriculum of AP and honors courses at Riverdale Country School and initiated two independent study projects, one in Latin American literature, and the other in applications of calculus in economics. Michael has been named a National Achievement Scholar, Presidential Classroom Scholar, and AP Scholar. He is also a Xerox Award recipient and finalist in the National Hispanic Recognition Program.
Michael’s love of learning led him to become involved in teaching others. In ninth and tenth grades, he tutored seventh and eighth graders from underprivileged neighborhoods to prepare them for admission to competitive high schools. Sharing his passion for knowledge with students in the Summerbridge Program, Michael learned about areas that he had not previously explored. His interest in education led the Manhattan chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority to invite him to speak about the importance of education at a Black History Month celebration.
The principal percussionist and keyboard instrumentalist in the Riverdale Orchestra, Michael attributes some of his most valuable skills to his involvement in music. “Through solo performance and ensemble playing,” he says, “I have acquired important interpretive skills, allowing me to analyze art, literature, and music with precision and accuracy.” Music has also given him the confidence to take on challenging assignments. When he and his teacher were unable to find an arrangement of J.S. Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring for Piano Trio, for example, Michael wrote his own arrangement.
Michael plans to pursue Political Science and Law and hopes one day to become President of the United States. “My lifetime goal is to help lift people up, and I feel I can more adequately do this in government,” he told the Ron Brown Scholar Program Selection Committee. “I can hone my debate and public speaking skills while studying what I love.”