Kamali Thompson was one of the slew of Black women athletes who dominated the Tokyo Olympics. Thompson flew the Team USA flag as a fencer… but Thompson has long been working toward her goal of becoming a surgeon.
She is already a medical doctor.
Raised in Teaneck, New Jersey, Thompson started high school at just 12 years old. Her parents raised her to work hard and master many talents… and now not only is she an alternate for U.S. Fencing team, but she will also soon be able to add “surgeon” to her growing list of accomplishments. Thompson is currently an orthopedic surgery resident.
“The biggest emphasis in my childhood was success. Not that I have to be super-successful, but that I have to try hard. My parents asked, “How much effort are you putting in? We’re expecting A’s in the classroom. We’re not upset if you don’t get A’s, but we are upset if you don’t try.” Growing up, I was a dancer,” she told Teen Vogue. “But when I was in school, I hated math; I hated that I could not get an A. They would say, “You love trying so hard at dancing. You have to figure out how to try hard at math.”
Thompson revealed why she decided to choose medicine. Representation matters.
“I always wanted to be a doctor. I couldn’t wait to see my pediatrician. She was an older Black woman and I wanted to be her because she made me feel great. I want to make other kids feel like that,” she explained.
Thompson wrapped up her interview with an inspiring message of perseverance:
“People feel lost, especially in today’s time with social media. You feel people don’t like you, you’re not smart enough, you’re not good enough, you don’t have the best clothes,” she said. “I want to say that it’s okay to feel like that, but you can’t let that wear yourself down. Know your self-esteem. You have to find what you’re good at, find what you love. That is going to give you confidence and open many doors for you to make you into the person that you are meant to become.”