May 11, 2017 8:30AM
Talon Thompson likes to joke about his work ethic.
“When I graduated high school, I wasn’t quite the ambitious guy that I am today,” Thompson said, smiling. “I have always been good in school, but never really excelled at it.”
This week, Thompson will receive his master’s degree in physics. He will be among 1,200 students earning degrees from Pittsburg State University this spring. And soon, Thompson will be on his way to Galway, Ireland, to continue his studies in medical physics.
Despite his words to the contrary, it’s hard to believe Thompson has a poor work ethic.
In addition to his graduate classes and teaching five physics labs this semester, Thompson is also a former cross country and track athlete at PSU.
Thompson said that when he first arrived on campus, the thought of earning a master’s degree, teaching, or pursuing advanced studies oversees never crossed his mind.
“I had no idea what I wanted to do,” Thompson said.
Pitt State and the campus community would change all that.
“I just loved the place,” Thompson said.
Then key people began to influence his life.
“Starting out it was a lot of Dr. Kuehn (David Kuehn, chair of the Physics Department),” Thompson said. He really helped me figure out how to adjust to college. Another person who has really helped me has been Coach (Russ) Jewett. Coach Jewett has shown me what it is to be a better human being. He’s shown me what it’s like to put your whole body into something. He is awesome – one of a kind.”
After completing his bachelor’s degree, Thompson embarked on earning a master’s degree, in part because of the encouragement of other students.
“I started my master’s program and really just flew with it,” Thompson said.
A graduate assistant in the Physics Department, Thompson has enjoyed teaching the labs.
“I’m getting a lot of ideas about how to make labs better and more efficient,” Thompson said. “One of my classmates who also teaches labs and I collaborate and try to make things better for the department.”
Recently, Thompson was accepted into a medical physics program at the National University of Ireland, Galway.
“I’ll be studying medical physics,” Thompson said. “I’ll work in radiation oncology in hospitals with a team of doctors, but my work will be mainly about the equipment.”
Following a year of study in Galway, Thompson expects to return to the U.S. for additional graduate study.
A self-described “townie,” Thompson is looking forward to his first international trip.
“I’m a townie,” Thompson said. “All my friends know I’d like to get out and travel and explore. I’d like to see how other people live.”