Meet AskMom: Cathy Thompson

In my most recent article, I discussed some things I did in order to help improve my mood and ease through this transition period of life. One piece of advice I gave was to listen to people who are important to you. This week, I started to take this advice more seriously when re-kindling my relationship with Cathy Thompson, a woman who devotes her time to connect with us college students at our more fragile moments. While re-connecting with Cathy, I was able to ask her some questions about her personal drive, as well as the AskMom organization itself.

Tell me about yourself!

My name is Cathy and I am a "fellow journeyer" in this thing called life!  Specifically, I am a woman who was born in the progressive and improving economic times of post WW II.  This means that I also lived through the unrest of the 60's anti-establishment, hippie movement and the volatile civil rights happenings and the Vietnam War. I had the opportunity to attend college and graduate from the University of Georgia in the early 70’s, and have been gratefully married to Phil for 42 years. I have been privileged to be Mom to five adult children. It is safe to say that the most important things in my life are my faith, my family and my friends. The most accurate descriptor about me as a person is that I absolute love people! I find people so delightful and I have an especially fond place in my heart for college students, probably because they are our future and they are so diverse and going through some of the most vulnerable and exciting times of their lives. 

How did you become involved in AskMom, and how did AskMom come about?

I have been a front row observer and participant in my own children's lives as they each attended college. All of my children attended college away from home and two of them in another state altogether. I saw that they were often positively impacted by a family or that one teacher who just believed in them, and encouraged them by simply listening and caring. It was this simple thought that came to my mind one day about ten years ago. I realized that maybe this would be a way to give back to the community and the university in my own town. I eventually recruited several of my other Mom friends and we began the process of seeing what it would take to do something like give away free cookies and free "advice" to students at UCF. We mostly listen and care for them but we also get to laugh with them and sometimes cry with them. There are those occasions where it is obvious that a student would like to hear what we think about a particular situation, relationship or circumstance going on. Some students have even asked us if we would pray for them and we are more than glad to do so. We have come to know some of the students really well because some of them come to see us every week. I can honestly say that all of the Moms that show up every Wednesday in front of the Student Union, do so because they have come to truly love the students at UCF.

What would you like to tell all college students?

There are a number of things that I would love to be able to tell college students but I think one of the most important things is that life is an "inside out" proposition rather than an "outside in" one. What I mean by that is that the character qualities and the affections of a person's heart and mind are the attributes that have the potential to get them through difficult seasons and trials in life. If one is dependent on the ever changing circumstances and fickle feelings that come with being human, life will be much more challenging to navigate. 

I would also like to remind each student that they are a whole person and can choose to be intentional about pursuing growth in all the parts of life. The hope is that students would not only be learning academically but also be balanced and developing in their physical fitness, their emotional maturity, their social skills and even spiritually.

I would also share with students one of my favorite quotes which is "Owe nothing to anyone but to love one another." Be quick to hear, slow to speak and very slow to pass judgment. Almost everyone we meet is fighting some battle of their own.  Treat others the way that you want them to treat you. And last of all, I would want to be able to express to every student that they have great value and worth.

 

What makes you love, and brings you happiness?

I had the blessing of being raised in a home where my Mom and Dad truly loved each other and were married for over 50 years before my Dad passed away. My parents and my home were not perfect at all but I knew that I was secure with them and that they loved me unconditionally.  I believe that the degree to which you know that you are loved is the degree to which you are free to give that same kind of love away. Of course, we spend our entire lives learning and growing through all kinds of fears, dysfunctions and insecurities but when we come to believe that there is genuine acceptance, forgiveness and love to be experienced it empowers us to do likewise. When asked what brings me happiness, I would have to say that getting to be with people (especially college students) brings me great joy.  When asked what makes me love, I would have to say that living with the sacrificial love of my parents and my husband has been an incredible example but experiencing the love and grace of Jesus has probably impacted me most and continues to motivate me to love and to keep growing as a person in all the parts of my life.  

Come by the ASK MOM table in front of the Student Union on Wednesdays between noon and 2pm and get a free cookie and some "free advice'...if you want it. If not, you can just have cookie! :D 

All images gathered from AskMomNow Facebook Page.