Rashida Thompson ’04

Upon receiving her bachelor’s degree in advertising from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Rashida Thompson ’04 ventured back home to begin her career at a local advertising agency in Chattanooga. After honing her skills for a few years, she returned to the world of academics, earning her MBA in marketing from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Today, Rashida works in the digital marketing space as a Digital Quality Assurance Specialist. 

Please describe your current role. 
I work in the healthcare industry in digital analytics. Specifically, I work with our implementation and development teams to integrate analytics on our web and app properties. It's not a role that I studied for or saw myself in, but it found me at the right time. You never quite know where you're going to end up after college!

When did you become interested in the arts? 
My mom signed me up for ballet and tap dance classes at an early age. I don't remember ever asking my mom to put me in dance, but when I started classes, it was like this was something I was just meant to do. It came naturally to me.

Did you participate in any art classes or extracurriculars while at GPS? 
I did start taking dance at GPS along with the ballet classes I was taking outside of school. When the time came, I auditioned for Terpsichord. I was so nervous! But the best possible outcome happened—I was selected to be in the company. Honestly, Terpsichord changed my life. I get emotional thinking about it. They saw something in me that I didn't, and that meant a lot to me as someone who always struggled to feel seen.

How have the arts impacted your life? 
The arts became a way of expressing myself when I previously could not. I've always felt that dance gave me the voice that I needed to speak my mind and share who I was with the world in the best way.

What does it mean to you to be able to express yourself through art? 
The arts allowed me to be visible in my way. Dance took that quiet spark that was already in me and transformed it into a powerful light that helped me to finally be comfortable in my skin.

Why is it important that we highlight Black artists? 
Black voices still need and deserve to be heard. Black artists still need to be seen and recognized. There are many forces at play to this day that try to silence us, our work, and our art. Highlighting Black artists ensures that we will not be erased from history and reinforces the fact that we continue to make history every single day.

What did your time at GPS mean to you? 
GPS wasn't just another school to me—it was an opportunity of a lifetime. Was it challenging? Definitely. Was it a culture shock? Absolutely. More than anything, GPS gave me lessons and experiences that I never would have had otherwise. I made lifelong friends. I had the best teachers. I was in the best dance company. GPS gave me the reins to take control of my future and the confidence to forge my own path while growing into the Black woman I was meant to be.