CSM Newsroom

From Minimum Wage, to HVAC Specialist, to Top Naval Civilian Ranks, James Thompson Inspires with Story of How CSM Trades Program Changed his Life

April 26, 2023
james thompson

“Not to be dramatic, but when I started at CSM I had two options: Give it all I had, or I wasn't going to be around much longer.”

james-thompson-2.jpg“Not to be dramatic, but when I started at CSM I had two options: Give it all I had, or I wasn't going to be around much longer,” recalls James Thompson. At the time, he was working a minimum-wage fast food job and living without stable housing when his now-wife inspired him to think bigger.

Thompson chose to give it all he had, and it turned out he had a lot.

He enrolled in the HVAC certification program through the Center for Trade and Energy Training at the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) Regional Hughesville Campus; landed an apprenticeship with the Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command; and in less than 10 years rose from student trainee to the deputy public works officer for Naval Support Activity South Potomac, Indian Head, becoming the top civilian in the public works department.

Now, the mentor, husband and father is sharing his story of success with hopes of inspiring others to follow their ambitions, too.

“I am committed to reaching back to CSM, my community, and to other kids out there like me who are not in the right kind of environment,” he says. “If someone had said to me at that time that at the age of 34 I would be on this journey, I would never have believed it. The fact that I can give back, reach people and share that it can be done, is everything for me."

“I tell them that they need to be visionaries,” he continued. "There are so many distractions in today's world, they should be able to look beyond what they can see and concentrate on what the future can be. I believe in manifestation, and anything is possible!”

Read on to learn more about Thompson’s incredible journey as written by Matthew Stinson, of Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Washington.

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