A Resume of Advocacy

Student Spotlight:  Jeremy Thompson, Bachelor’s of Finance and Account Management (‘25)

by Natalie Bowers

Jeremy Thompson is currently enrolled at CPS as a BS Finance and Account Management major with a concentration in Entrepreneurship (‘25). In addition to studying to complete his bachelor’s degree, Thompson is also working towards qualification to sit for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license.  

Professors and mentors slate him as a precocious student. According to Mary Ankomah, Foundation Year Program Coordinator and one of Thompson’s biggest fans, Thompson is ‘an exceptional student and young man with a very bright future’.  

Thompson is currently considering a healthy list of next-step opportunities, which include employment at Ernst & Young, LLP in their tax practice (he’s had two internships with them already) and submitting graduate applications to both law school and Northeastern’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business.

“My plate is full of options right now; I realize I’m in a privileged position, especially considering where I came from. Expectations for kids like me weren’t exactly high,” he said. 

Born and raised in Dorchester, Thompson attended English High School in Jamaica Plain, one of Boston’s oldest public schools. He started his freshman year in 2014, just as the school came under scrutiny from the Department of Secondary Education (DESE). A significant increase in MCAS Math scores, credited to a talented new school administration and math teacher, sparked accusations of cheating. The MCAS results in question showed a remarkable improvement from the previous year, with 10% of students ranked as advanced, up from zero in 2014, and 74% ranked as proficient, up from 51% the prior year. Following an investigation, the school was cleared of wrongdoing. However, skepticism’s lingering impact weighed on Jeremy and his classmates. 

“At a time when we thought the school would be celebrating our accomplishments, they scrutinized us. That wasn’t a good feeling,” he said.  

A year later, a high school dean, leading a double life, was linked to local gangs. He was caught recruiting a student to sell marijuana in the school and ultimately arrested for shooting the student over an apparent downturn in drug sales.  

In navigating the aftermath of these events, Thompson found respite in community, and he focused on his academics. He committed his time to English High’s Boston Debate Team and the Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA).  

Foundation Year 

During his junior year in high school, Thompson’s high school advisor introduced him to Northeastern University’s Foundation Year, one of a variety of pathway programs offered by the College of Professional Studies (CPS). Foundation Year serves students in Boston transitioning from high school to college and offers rigorous academic coursework within a supportive cohort environment during their first year of college. 

Meeting progression standards and completion of the Foundation Year program enables students to progress into a degree at Northeastern University. The program’s design aims to maximize student potential, offering small classes and individualized advising, fostering a strong sense of community, supplemented by provisions for textbooks, technology access, and a dining plan providing meals on campus. The program boasts a 92% average matriculation rate for students who successfully complete the program and meet progression standards to continue at Northeastern. Many of these students successfully graduate with a bachelor’s degree. 

Looking back at his high school experience, Thompson said he wasn’t really coached to strive for graduate-level academic horizons. He said, “The general expectation among the students and teachers was for us to get an associate’s degree, at max. The hope was for us to graduate and get into a community college with no real focus beyond that. Foundation Year gave me a heavy push to develop certain habits and to focus on something much more. Foundation Year helped me stay more consistent in reaching for my goals.”  

Thompson recalls that his relationships with faculty members, including Foundation Year Program Director, Martha Loftus, made a huge impact on him, helping him develop his strengths and identify his passions.  

“Through Foundation Year, I learned to see how the world works, I learned about big picture systems that shape our economy. With my own focus on and in community, this was interesting.”  

Since starting to pursue his undergraduate degree, Thompson’s resume of advocacy work has grown long and reaches every facet of community. He has excelled in developing his passion for serving the community, and due to his many roles as a community activist, he was honored by Northeastern University with its Social Justice Advocacy Award in 2023.  

In 2020, Thompson got involved in community activism after George Floyd’s murder and began to meet other local activists. He worked with city council candidate Jacob Urena’s campaign for District 4 in Boston. Urena then introduced him to The New Democracy Coalition, a Boston-based organization that focuses on promoting civic literacy, policy and electoral justice. He served as a political strategist and helped redesign Boston’s Second Suffolk District’s ‘Go Out To Vote’ campaign. After the redesign, he travelled to other states to champion the voting rights issue.  

Thompson organized a campaign for voting rights with leaders of the civil rights era of the 50s and 60s in DC with an organization called Black Voters Matter. He travelled to the Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma, Alabama, an annual gathering and ten-mile walk to commemorate the Anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the Selma-to-Montgomery March, and the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. There, Thompson befriended living history civil rights activist JoAnne Bland, a woman who was present at Bloody Sunday in 1965 at the age of eleven, and also the co-founder and former director of the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma, Alabama. 

In 2021, he started his own boutique financial consultancy, called Little Liberty, offering services including personal financial planning and professional development, to combat predatory financial misinformation in the community. He helped organize a community conference at Roxbury Public Library in partnership with Visions Inc., a Boston-based nonprofit that helps to integrate DEI principles into organizations and support individuals to integrate into their communities. Thompson’s efforts with Little Liberty led him to work with many formerly incarcerated people to rebuild their self-worth and learn how to talk about themselves in job interviews. He said, “Many of these folks learned great skills while they did their time, but they didn’t know how to talk about them: there was a lot of self-efficacy building in our programming.” 

 With Little Liberty, Thompson helped draft bylaws for multiple nonprofits in an around Boston’s ‘methadone mile’, otherwise known as Recovery Road, an area in Boston located at the intersection of Melnea Cass Boulevard and Massachusetts Avenue. Due to its concentration of neighborhood services providing help, the area has long attracted many people struggling with homelessness and drug addiction. “If you find something you care about deeply, if you can hold that close to you, there is nothing in this world that can stop you. It’s not about managing your time, it’s about identifying what you care about and letting that care guide you.” he said. 

Standing on Shoulders 

Thompson says he draws inspiration from those who are already caring for others. 

Thompson acknowledges taking inspiration from a few family members including his grandfather, who he describes as ‘a powerhouse’, a veteran with a forty-year career with the US Army who saw the Berlin Wall fall. “He told me that when he was in Vietnam, he witnessed soldiers throwing babies in the air and used them as target practice. This just made him realize the cruel reality that some people just don’t value the miracle of life. When he served in Germany in the 50’s after World War II, he describes enjoying a reprieve from the overt American racism that colored his youth. People treated him with extreme kindness, families took him in and cooked for him; it made all the difference. He shared these experiences with me as lessons in valuing kindness and humanity and what centering those values can do for people. To quote my grandfather, ‘We the unfortunate have created so much with so little, that we can create anything out of nothing’”. 

“There are a lot of people who are forced to do community work, and they aren’t getting paid. These are people in the neighborhood who are raising kids who aren’t theirs, people who are addicted and looking out for other people, transpeople taking care of transkids who got kicked out of their own homes, and nobody’s getting paid for it; they’re doing it because they care.” 

Jeremy Thompson

Thompson credits his uncle, Rashad Chandler, who passed away in 2023, as the person who helped shape his character. He said, “He always taught me a lot, about how to be a Black man in Boston, ways to move both in community and out. He was a rapper, big in the 90’s. He was a Dorchester legend.” 

Thompson also praises his aunt, Dorcas Dunham, as a big influence. She received a state award for community work that was presented at her funeral. She was heavily involved in her community, and she advocated for green spaces in neighborhoods.  

Identifying the ‘why’ 

Thompson advises Foundation Year students to take their studies seriously, emphasizing the importance of personal commitment. “Despite ample support available through the program, success ultimately hinges on individual motivation and dedication. Identifying your deeper motivations beyond academics and self-interest is crucial. While the journey may present challenges, recognizing this and embracing the difficulty leads to growth and opportunity., he said. 

Thompson is working to help his community with sustainability, and he ultimately wants to help change state and federal tax laws. “My ‘why’ is to help communities, not just my community. The flow of how we even think about ‘community’, at least in the US, is something that I challenge. The general view in the US is that ‘community’ refers to anyone you share physical proximity to, but ‘community’ to me comes from this idea of closeness, how much you allow others to influence your being, way of life, everything. We call it ‘relationships’; I call it ‘community’. Uplifting that aspect, as opposed to focusing resources on imposing the structure of forced communities like HOAs and forced community spaces, I think it will change how we talk about happiness. Someone else’s happiness would be my happiness; it can change how we talk about feelings; it wouldn’t be just for someone else to win, it would be shared.” 

Upon hearing Thompson describe his vision for a healthy community, Ankomah said, “Imagine if everyone took an active role like Jeremy. Imagine what that community would look like.”