Like all of us, Carrie was drastically affected by the COVID 19 pandemic. Not only is it hard to keep a business going, but it’s hard to keep going mentally being isolated for so long.
Alumni Spotlight - Carrie Thompson
Reaching out to Carrie brought some light into the darkness of isolation and a sense of human connection as she shared her story. Tears brimmed as she discussed all the happy memories and the simple fact that despite whatever we go through in this life, hope will always remain.
Carrie’s journey with Aims starts back several years ago when she found herself looking at all the years of hard work put into her family businesses. Her family had several successful businesses, but this one just wasn’t flying. As a single Mom, she had to really consider what would be best for the future of not only herself but the ones who depended on her. This led to a serious conversation with her dad. He asked her, “If you could do anything, what would it be?” Carrie thought about it and then replied, “I would go to school, go to college.”
And that was all it took to convince Carrie that school was the next step and she walked right into the local Aims Community College campus and said, “I’d like to go to college!”
It was as simple as that. She didn’t know anything about higher education. All she knew was her family businesses. This was a huge step that initially seemed pretty daunting. However, she soon found that stepping out in such a way would have a lasting impact that would change her life as she knew it.
"...the only word that remained untouched was the word “hope.” This simple resistance to melting despite the intense rise in temperature was a lasting reminder for Carrie. It proclaimed loud and proud that no matter what we go through in this life, we will always have hope."
Going to Aims gave Carrie the flexibility to dabble in different areas and as she enrolled in different courses, she began to find her passion. She enjoyed the Aims environment where she really felt welcomed and able to interact with all generations and developed a support group with those around her, including the professors. Studying at Aims as a non-traditional student allowed for a smooth transition to UNC where she was even able to take a few classes with her daughter. Carrie not only graduated with an associate degree from Aims, but she also went on to earn her Bachelor’s degree in Communications at UNC.
She was so grateful for her time at Aims as it gave her the courage to try many new things. During this time, she learned how to do snow sculpting and went on to compete in national competitions. Snow sculpting is a bit like sand sculpting – only much colder. The snow is produced with a snow machine and teams work together using a variety of tools within a time frame to complete their project. She will never forget the experience of competing at the national level. The competition took place at Lake Geneva where everything around her was frozen. At -28 degrees Fahrenheit, this was some of the coldest weather she had ever experienced – so cold that they weren’t even able to start sculpting the first day. When they finally were able to begin, Carrie’s eyelashes froze within minutes. Despite the frigid temperatures, her team pressed on to bring the design from their imaginations into reality. They had four days to complete their masterpiece and worked hard to uncover the fine details and intricately carve out the words “Peace, Hope and Love.” After several hours of applying intense focus, heart, skill, and passion; the design was finished. It was a beautiful piece! The words “Peace, Hope and Love” had spun all around the piece and spiraled into the heavens.
Unfortunately, their masterpiece was short-lived. The temperature had risen 60 degrees in a short time period. When they had come out of the awards ceremony, they went to check on their design, surprised to see that of the three words, the only word that remained untouched was the word “hope.” This simple resistance to melting despite the intense rise in temperature was a lasting reminder for Carrie. It proclaimed loud and proud that no matter what we go through in this life, we will always have hope.
That’s Carrie’s message to the Aims community: despite whatever you are going through during this pandemic and unprecedented times, just know that “hope” remains.
- Alumni Spotlight