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Thursday, July 24, 2014

New GPC President to bring better connections to campus

Hallie Thompson said the Graduate Professional Council wants to become better connected on a campus and national level.

July 8, 2014

Often, Graduate Professional Council President Hallie Thompson arrives at GPC executive board meetings coming right off the field, covered in soil, with the rest of her well-dressed associates wondering what she could have been doing to get so messy.

“I’m a glorified farmer – I pretend to farm and just do research,” she said.

Thompson grew up in a small town just southwest of Columbia. With only nine classmates, Thompson quickly outgrew her surroundings.

She opted to attend a few years of her high school career in the Francis Howell School District further east in Missouri, because it offered more advanced placement courses for her to take. Eventually, she would set her mind to pursuing higher education at MU.

After earning her undergraduate in biochemistry from MU in 2011, Thompson is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in plant sciences. She is conducting research on drought’s effect on corn crops, primarily the roots.

Thompson took presidential office last May, after serving as GPC’s treasurer under former president, Jake Wright. Now that she’s running the show, she has some big plans for her term.

“This isn’t really an angle, and I’m still learning a lot about it, but I really want to work on public relations — not just internally, but across campus,” she said. “I want GPC to have name recognition, and to start the ball rolling to build a great reputation.”

Thompson said she plans to have two separate teams on her executive board: one on campus that works to further connections with students, and one that works with the national level of GPC.

“The national level of GPC is a way to broaden our reach, and we would love to continue working with them,” she said.

In fact, this year, MU will be hosting the 28th annual National Association of Graduate-Professional Students Conference in November. Thompson also happens to be the director of the conference.

Along with a public relations facelift, Thompson said she promises GPC will become more involved in many of the issues facing students. She said the GPC will not only continue to advocate on the local, state and national level for graduate and professional students, but also will be “along for the ride” in many important discussions involving the graduate school on campus.

Being young for a graduate student, Thompson said she hopes she can use her age to benefit her office.

“I am younger and closer to undergraduates,” she said. “I know a lot about MU from the perspective of an undergrad, and this will help build a better rapport with them.”

Thompson said her youth has led to a positive working relationship with Missouri Students Association President Mason Schara.

“We hit it off,” she said. “We have bi-weekly meetings. I feel comfortable stepping into his office – and everyone in his office is great.”

Thompson said the GPC executive board is also very supportive of her in all her pursuits. With their encouragement, she said that GPC will definitely “get the job done.”

“When we go to a national conference, other groups want to speak to us because we’re from Mizzou,” she said. “They want to know what we do and how they can emulate our success.”

The biggest trick up Thompson’s sleeve to lead GPC and MU to accomplish her goals is her personality.

“On the first meeting with someone, it’s like we become best friends,” she said. “This allows me to further connections with the media and the rest of the school.”

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