July 1, 2011
Cowley alumnus making the most of his opportunities
Ambitious, motivated, inspirational, these are just a few of the words used to describe Cowley College alumnus Manny Thompson, who is excelling in all aspects of his life since graduating from the school in 2009.
The mild-mannered, always smiling student, is now preparing for graduate school at Wichita State University, while boxing professionally, modeling, and taking part in a work-based learning program as an intern for the Drug Enforcement Administration.
While at Cowley, the criminal justice major was involved in Student Government, Multicultural Scholars Program, Black Student Union, IMPACT, Cowley Crazies, PAWS, and Student Athletic Training for the Cowley College men’s basketball team.
He was well liked by faculty, staff and students alike, and was named the school’s March 2008 Student of the Month. Shortly after receiving the honor, Thompson was named Arkansas City’s Outstanding Student for the 2007-2008 academic year.
“Manny was an outstanding student while at Cowley,” Marlys Cervantes, Humanities Department Chair and co-sponsor of the Multicultural Scholars Program said. “He was, and is, an example for others to follow. I have no doubt that Manny will continue on the road he is on with great success. He has many endeavors right now, and he's doing well in all of them. He's quite an amazing young man.”
Cowley College’s IMPACT/TRIO staff members would say Thompson could teach their Time Management workshop.
Thompson has come a long way since he was a young child growing up in Wichita. He credits his mother, Brenda, with helping him get to where he is today. He also credits his boxing trainer Johnny Papin (pictured training with Thompson), who has worked with him since he was 11 years old.
When Thompson first met Papin he was struggling in school, but Papin and the eventual love of boxing helped get him on the right path.
“He has not only been a great influence boxing wise, he’s helped me learn how to be a man and make the right decisions,” Thompson said. “Boxing has influenced me a lot, it has kept me active, fit and healthy.”
With his mother’s guidance and the support of Papin, Thompson began making the honor roll. At Southeast High School, until he graduated in 2007, Thompson made the honor roll every year.
He was named to the list of Who’s Who Among American High School Students and was a talented high school football player before deciding to come to Cowley.
“Cowley felt like my home away from home,” Thompson said. “I feel blessed to have gotten the opportunity to attend Cowley.”
Manny joined the U.S. Army Reserve after his freshman year of college, and last summer traveled with the U.S. Navy to Hong Kong, Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore, delivering medical aid to poor regions.
During his sophomore year at Cowley College he took classes at the school’s Mulvane Center and served as a Student Ambassador. It was during this time that Thompson completed almost 1,700 hours of community service with AmeriCorps, a federal work/scholarship program.
He then transferred to Wichita State University and plans to graduate this fall with a bachelor's degree. In May, Thompson was accepted to a master's degree program at WSU to study criminal justice.
Needing only eight more credit hours to graduate from Wichita State, Thompson is set to become the first member of his family to obtain a college degree.
“I loved the teachers and advisors at Cowley, they helped make it a smooth transition for me when I transferred to WSU,” Thompson said.
With Papin’s instruction and his own, strong work ethic, Thompson won two Golden Gloves boxing championships and compiled an amateur record of 38 wins and 11 losses.
Now, at the age of 22, he is 6-feet-2, 174 pounds now, a light heavyweight. In his first professional fight in Albuquerque, NM on Dec. 3 against Christian Bruffy-Holmes, he knocked out his opponent in 58 seconds.
On July 16, at Doc Howard's Lounge in Old Town, Thompson will fight his second professional match against Demarcus Glosson.
Papin thinks Thompson has a promising future in the ring, but is just as proud of the person he has become outside of the ropes.
"He's become a man any man would want as a son,” Papin said.
When Thompson is not busy training in the ring or studying for an exam, he works for Models and Images in Wichita and is hired to model clothes for newspapers and magazines.
While he credits his mother and Papin as playing huge roles in his life, he also credits Cowley with helping get him to where he is today and would recommend the school to anyone unsure of where they would like to attend college.
“The teachers at Cowley make sure the students fulfill their dreams and goals,” Thompson said. “They care about you a lot and will do anything they can to help you.”
Once done with school, Thompson will continue on with his boxing career and would like to become a special agent for the federal government, perhaps with the DEA, FBI or ICE.
Thompson, still the thoughtful young man that I first met more than three years ago, walks me to the door of Laselva Mixed Martial Arts gym on South Woodlawn before heading back to the ring to continue his pursuit of excellence in whatever it is he finds himself doing at that moment.
No doubt about it, the world is a better place with Manny Thompson in it.
"I want to be able to help other people the way people have helped me in my life,” Thompson said.