Students of TMCC: Samantha and Amber Thompson

Amanda and Samantha Thompson pictured together.
Rebecca A. Eckland

It’s important to focus on your long-term goals because it can be very easy to get lost in social media, or to get overwhelmed by everything that’s going on right now, especially COVID-19…. So, not doing well in a class—even if it’s one you don’t necessarily want to be taking—is a step backward from where you ultimately want to be. You really just need to focus on your end goal.

Amber Thompson

It’s also important not to underestimate yourself, doubt yourself, or put a limit on yourself. You need to realize that you’re your own person and you just have to put in the effort and try. Don’t give up on your goals and dreams.

Samantha Thompson

Amber and Samantha Thompson are TMCC High School students who are dually enrolled in college classes at TMCC. Originally from Sparks, Nevada, these sisters share a love of STEM fields and are working toward degrees that will enable them to pursue careers in different aspects of engineering. 

“I’ve been interested in STEM since I was young, and I’ve always been drawn to math,” said Samantha. “But last semester, I took my first college chemistry class ... [and] I fell in love with the subject.” This led Samantha to the realization that her future degree plans—and career path—will include Chemical Engineering. 

Amber, too, admits a lifelong interest in the STEM fields yet sees herself pursuing a different aspect of engineering. “And kind of similar to Samantha, I’ve always enjoyed STEM fields. Ever since we were young, we both enjoyed it. And I particularly really love math and that critical thinking aspect of it. [And] I know this sounds a little bit cliché, but I want to help possibly design and create more structurally sound houses for earthquakes and natural disasters to help people to be safer.”

Due to the decision to move many classes to an online format, the Thompson sisters are taking their STEM classes online. This has posed considerable challenges, especially for Math 182, Calculus, where both students admit that not having the ability to learn the material in-person has made the learning process a bit more difficult. 

“Despite it being one of my favorite classes, Math 182 is very challenging with this whole COVID situation with not being able to actively ask questions [in-person],” said Samantha. “I’m trying to overcome that by reaching out to the professor when I need help and [using other] resources like [reaching out to] my peers. And the online videos help as well to re-reference materials. I absolutely love it despite how difficult it is. I really love learning about it. I enjoy math, and I think it’s fun.” 

For Amber, Chemistry 121 and a Calculus class from last semester have been her favorite classes at TMCC so far. “Both classes have just been super fun covering topics that are interesting to me but the professors were also very understanding... so if I didn’t understand a concept, they were so easy to approach. And, especially during COVID times, that makes their classes that much more interesting and so much more fun,” she said. 

Their continued success despite the challenges that come along with online learning has to do with keeping themselves organized, on-task, and focused on their ultimate goals.

“Because all of my classes are online, it’s easy to procrastinate,” Amber admitted. To get around this tendency, she’s started making lists for herself of what she needs to get done for every day of the week. “That helps me to stay ahead of everything, so I can reference my list and keep on top of everything I need to do,” she said.

“I do a similar method to Amber in creating lists,” said Samantha, who said that the distractions offered by social media are a particular challenge to online learning. “It’s so easy just to fall into ‘oh, I’m just going to scroll on this social media feed for an hour’ and then just get lost in it. Just realizing I’m going to take an hour break and get back to work... and prioritizing is huge.”

Their hard work is certainly paying off: both Thompsons are on-track to graduate with their Associate of Science degrees in Spring 2022, and will have earned 80-83 college credits. After completing their associate degrees, both students are planning on transferring to UNR to continue their educational paths in their respective fields; for Amber, this is a bachelor’s degree in Engineering with a GeoTechnical emphasis. Samantha plans to pursue a degree Chemical Engineering. 

“I want to be able to help people...[either through] manufacturing processes or even in the medical side of things,” she said. “I hope we can get a head start so we can really start exploring our different fields [and] have a good impact on the world.”  

To other students who continue to work on their educational and professional dreams despite the challenges of COVID-19, the Thompsons offer advice on remaining focused and secure in yourself and the goals you’ve made. “Focus on that long-term goal because it can be easy to get lost in social media, or to get overwhelmed with everything that is happening right now, especially because of COVID-19,” said Amber. “Even if you’re taking a class that you don’t necessarily want to be taking or you don’t enjoy, if you don’t do well in the class, that’s like a step backward from where you ultimately want to be. Just keep your focus on your end goal.”

In addition to remaining focused, it’s also important to believe that you’re capable of accomplishing what you’ve set your mind to. “It’s important not to underestimate yourself,” Samantha said. “Amber and I are often in classes where our peers are considerably older than we are, and that can be difficult because we see all these older people who are having struggles, and [we ask ourselves]: what makes you think that you could do that? But [you have to] get past that and realize that you are your own person and that you can still do this... You just have to put in the effort and try.”  

Join us until the end of the semester for additional stories in the “Students of TMCC” series, where we highlight stories from students across the college working toward their personal and professional goals despite facing the challenges of COVID-19. 

For more information about dual-credit enrollment opportunities at TMCC, contact the Jump Start Program at 775-673-8236.