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  • Writer's pictureManny

#TRUEMU UPDATES: Meet Mia Thompson

Updated: Jul 14, 2021

Piedmont Blue first started its work capturing photos and creating video content within the Washtenaw County community. After working for different non-profits I discovered that I like working with individual people better to showcase their best features. A friend of mine actually wanted me to shoot their graduation photos and this was even before I thought about capturing portraits of people seriously. With his feedback, in addition to him sharing the pictures on Facebook, I saw that many people, (including myself) loved how his graduation photos came out. For me this was the start of something more, something that was going to jumpstart my career as a portrait photographer. I wanted to make it my goal and mission to practice this particular type of genre in photography if I wanted to stand out with my work rather than just taking photos. It was even better I was that I was getting paid for it.

Graduation ceremonies can be some of the most happiest and exciting moments within a person's life. Whether if it was high school or college, many people have big dreams to walk across that stage and onto successful careers. The big moment finally comes to a close when you achieve that goal, take professional pictures to post online, and enjoy a night out in the city to celebrate.

Moments like these last do not forever, which is why checking up on past graduates is truly an important step forward in my goals for Piedmont Blue. I want to tell stories that not only help drive the business, but also give support those who need it. (And to those who can learn from it.)

"What happens to those past graduates and what about their stories should we learn?"

#TruEMU Updates is content on the Blue Blog that is created to help undergraduate, graduates, and other curious individuals see the reality of what happens after college. (Also called Post-college). I don't know about you but my graduation gown has been in my closet since 2016. I never decorated my cap so its somewhere packed away and currently my tassel is hanging on my rearview mirror within my car, but those things are incomparable to the journey I've experienced after graduating from Eastern Michigan University. My clients that I shoot are some amazing people, with unique stories and careers and it would be remiss to not give an update on their lives in order to encourage those who may be on the same path as them. I think that many people can learn from others lived experiences so I have set up an easy to read interview format along with previous images and new images of each client interviewed. I hope you enjoy reading these!

Now that background introductions is out of the way I want everyone to re-meet Mia Thompson!

Mia and I share a couple of similarities and eventually met each other through mutual friends from EMU! We also shared an experience of working on campus as RA's (Resident Advisors). As lover and devout follower of Christ, she was apart of our school's Gospel Choir (EMUGC), and a dedicated member of New Life Church here in Ypsilanti. Not only is Mia an amazing individual to know but even with her smile she is someone that will definitely make you happy and comfortable in her presence. People from Detroit don't know alot about people from outside our city, (esp Cleveland) but meeting people from there I can say yall definitely good in my book. I also understand when many say "I'm not from Ohio I'm from Cleveland." I mean IYKYK. Check out her interview with newly updated portraits below.


What was your major? Are you still in your field of study?

Major: Exercise Physiology and Health Education, Currently still in the field of study.

What is your job now? Is that where you expected to work?

Upon graduating in 2018, I worked for a primary care doctors office for 2 years in the role of a Senior Outreach executive and the currently work as an Operations Manager. Our mission was to build clinics in the inner city and help with population growth. That was a tough but rewarding position. Now, I currently work at an ABA Therapy Clinic for children with Autism. When I was an undergrad at Eastern Michigan, I always knew that I would work in the healthcare field, but I didn’t expect this field; I fell into it really.

What do you like about your job? What’s making you stay?

ABA Therapy is a growing field.I work on the operations side and I love that no day is the same. There’s always a new “puzzle to solve” as we would say. What’s keeping me staying is the growth and love for our clients. We believe that every child deserves to prosper no matter if they have a disability or not. Our job is to bridge the gap with our resources to make the playing field leveled.

What lessons is your current job teaching you?

This field teaches me a new lesson every week I would say. Most importantly I would say that it’s teaching me discipline. "Discipline is doing what produces good, not what feels good. Here are few quick points: When I don’t feel like working, I still have to show up for my team. I have to be consistent in my workflow, with staying organized and on top of things. I have to lead by example." That’s showing up early, honoring promises/commitments and executing and following through with the plans.

What’s your dream job? How do you think you will get there?

I actually don’t have a dream job. I feel as though right now I am walking in purpose and doing exactly what God called me to do. This life thing is a journey not a race. I believe that one thing will lead you to the next. I have been successful because I’ve always given wherever I’m at 100%. I’m always devoted to assignments, with faith that if God steers me somewhere else I’m always equipped. However, my lifelong goal is be able to have a big home with a lot of land, and raise a family. I don’t want to work the rest of my life, so my goal is to create multiple assets so that I can still have cash flow. But that’s years down the line.

Ok, so be honest, has your experience at EMU helped you get to where you are at?

EMU is what you make it! College in general is what you make it. There are resources everywhere, however they won’t chase you down. You are responsible for your success, you have to go out and get it. I am a proud Alumni of EMU. Career wise, it taught me how to put my head down and work. There were not many professors who reached down to serve students who didn’t know what they needed. You have to mentally take action after action after action. Socially, I’m an extrovert and it help me connect with more students like myself! Spirituality, EMU is where I found Christ. I joined and served as the Vice President of the best choir in Michigan. The Eastern Michigan University Gospel Choir In the 2018 year.

Have you made any connections with other EMU alumni?

I met tons of friends whom I still visit to this day!

If not for EMU, how would your experience differ if you went to another university?

Honestly, it’s hard to think about it happening any other way.

Would you say having a college education is a scam?

No, I just thinks it’s too expensive. College however, is not forever. Have a goal, if not you can find yourself doing many other things not just school.

How do you feel about the national crisis regarding student loan debt? What do you think higher officials could do in the government?

I could honestly write an essay about this! But I believe a certain percentage should be forgiven for students when considering the cost of education college graduates pay when they come out and inflation should decrease.

Has the pandemic affected you in any way?

The pandemic affected everyone in good and bad. I did learn that there is no such thing as job security! LOL

How have you navigated throughout this pandemic and what (if any), strategies have you use to help with your mental health?

I focused on controlling the controllables. I found my new opportunity through the pandemic. "There are two types of people in this world. People who allow change to screw them over. And then people who say to change, how can I move with the times to be successful." As Napoleon Hill says: "Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit. You choose your route. "

If there is anything you could change from last year when the pandemic first started to now, what changes would you have made?

Definitely to read books more!

What are some next steps in your life? Goals? Visions?

The next steps for me is get completely good and sticking to the basics while keeping things simple one day at a time. I plan to get more creative and start writing. I want to write my story although it’s forever being written as long as I’m alive.

What advice can you give to an undergraduate student at EMU specifically?

My advice to an undergraduate student is to truly follow what your passions and goals are. You’ll eventually find a field that will not only produce great income for you, but make you happy. "Stay on the course, know why you’re there and get it done. Don’t play too much, your future is dependent on you, no one else."


Questions on why Piedmont Blue?

Why did you choose Piedmont Blue to do your Graduation Photos?

I knew Emanuel from EMU and I saw that he took really good pictures so I know I wanted to shoot with someone who made me feel comfortable.

What made Piedmont Blue stick out to you?

Classy, nice pictures, affordable, professional! Woot woot!

If you can remember, was there anything that Emanuel Terrell (Manny), had done during your shoot that made you aware that you were in good hands of the photographer?

He made me feel comfortable. He complimented poses and he made adjustments so I didn’t look a fool! LOL

As far as quality, do you still like your graduation photos?

Yes, I still love them!

Any additional comments about Piedmont Blue?

I love it here! I know Emanuel is blessed and is going far in his career!

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