Inspiring Graduate: Gervase Thompson, B.S. Applied Science & B.S. Mechanical Engineering

‘My education here at UW-Stout has prepared me well to venture out into the world.’
May 13, 2024

Inspiring Graduate: Gervase Thompson (’24)

During his five years at UW-Stout, Gervase Thompson excelled both in academics and athletics, balancing the demanding lifestyle of a student athlete.

As an Honors College student and outside linebacker for the Blue Devils football team, he maintained a 4.0 grade-point-average while earning dual degrees in applied science and mechanical engineering.

Inspiring grad Gervase Thompson
Gervase Thompson receives his diploma from Chancellor Katherine Frank / UW-Stout

For his academic achievements, Thompson was one of 48 senior student athletes this spring who received the UW-Stout Scholar Athlete Award. He was one of 10 UW-Stout senior football players named to the 2024 National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Hampshire Honor Society. He was also nominated for the 2024 WHG Humanitarian Award.

Thompson earned his dual bachelor’s degrees on May 4, along with 1,037 graduates. He is seeking a career outside of the Midwest.

“There is still so much left in the world for me to see, and my education here at UW-Stout has prepared me well to venture out into the world,” he said.

How has your UW-Stout experience changed you?

Stout has molded me to be an effective, hands-on problem solver. The polytechnic education model was an important factor in my educational experience. 

The coursework provided me with unique insights into the world of engineering and physics that a standard education style would not have. 

Inspiring grad Gervase Thompson
Gervase Thompson in a mechanical engineering lab at UW-Stout / UW-Stout

Whether it was working on projects in the Fryklund Hall Material Removal and Forming Processing lab or analyzing materials with the scanning electron microscope in Jarvis Hall, I was gaining practical experiences a standard textbook could not provide. 

Another aspect of my education that will have a lasting impact on me is the student-to-instructor ratio. The small class sizes facilitate more one-on-one interactions with professors, which allowed me to grow within the curriculum at a more rapid rate.

How well has UW-Stout prepared you to work in your field and why?

My education at Stout has prepared me very well to transition into a full-time career. With my majors of mechanical engineering and applied physics, I have developed a diverse and unique skill set that will be highly effective in the field of engineering. Both majors provided me with unique perspectives on problem solving, with a fundamental focus on analyzing problems and breaking them down into solvable pieces.

Inspiring grad Gervase Thompson
Gervase Thompson maintained a 4.0 grade-point-average while earning dual degrees / UW-Stout

I have developed a well-rounded technical proficiency through my coursework. Having taken a wide range of courses from Mechanical Principles and Fluid Mechanics to quantum and classical mechanics, I am able to approach problems from multiple angles. 

Communication and collaboration are two more key takeaways from my education that have prepared me for my future career. Both of my majors emphasized the importance of effective communication and collaboration skills. Having the ability to analyze and communicate information clearly and concisely in an industry setting is crucial for success. For example, it can lead to decreased lead times on the production lines or in product development, which, in turn, leads to an increased throughput and successful business with satisfied customers.

What stands out about your UW-Stout experience?

What stands out to me about my Stout experience was my professors. There was an incredible wealth of knowledge shared amongst my instructors across both the engineering and applied science departments. They were all deeply committed to student success, while possessing a profound understanding of their respective fields. 

The amount of industry-specific knowledge was also first class. Instead of working from a textbook verbatim, I was constantly exposed to real-world scenarios that have had a lasting impact on me. 

How did your involvement on campus impact your experience?

Football was the most impactful part of my Stout experience outside of academics. It was like having a second family on campus. Knowing over a hundred different guys on campus each year was one of the best parts. It was extremely competitive and was the best form of stress relief for me outside of classes. 

Inspiring grad Gervase Thompson
Gervase Thompson played outside linebacker for the Blue Devils / UW-Stout Athletics

Over the course of my football career here, I was fortunate enough to be an Honorable Mention and 2nd Team All-Conference linebacker my junior and senior years respectively, a 2023 William V. Campbell Trophy national semifinalist, and the 2023 WIAC Max Sparger Football Scholar Athlete Award recipient. 

I was also involved with two organizations on campus: the Honors College and Multicultural Student Services. The Honors College provided me with some unique experiences when I was fulfilling my general education requirements. The Honors courses were some of the most enjoyable classes I took while at Stout. 

As a member of Multicultural Student Services, I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship for four years of my education. I will always be grateful for their help financially because it allowed me to focus more on school instead of worrying about sourcing additional school funding. 

What challenges did you face in earning your degree and how did you overcome them?

For me, the biggest challenge was balancing the student athlete lifestyle with rigorous course loads each semester. The duality of this lifestyle was very demanding. It restricted the amount of free time I had and really tested my perseverance and mental strength.

Inspiring grad Gervase Thompson with his capstone group demonstrating the NVent Hinge project
Gervase Thompson, center, with his capstone group demonstrating their NVent Hinge project / UW-Stout

To overcome this obstacle, I kept pushing forward, taking it one day at a time. Sooner than later, all the demanding tasks of being a Scholar Athlete became second nature and I had formed the habits to be successful in anything I pursued. 

What are you most proud of as you finish your degree?

I am most proud of maintaining a 4.0 GPA while playing football. Pursuing this dual degree has not been an easy task. There were lots of early morning workouts and late nights in the library. Waking up tired and going to bed exhausted. 

Looking back, all the sacrifices I made to get where I am today were worth it. Choosing this path allowed me to grow mentally in ways I did not think were possible, and I am truly grateful for it.

Additional thoughts

It is astonishing how my life at Stout and my life back at Northwestern High School have become so intertwined. There are many more connections I could name.

I was lucky enough to have a former Northwestern High School and Stout graduate, Coach Jake Schiff, provide me with the opportunity to continue my football career at the collegiate level by recruiting me to play here at Stout. 

My younger brother Adam soon followed me here academically to pursue a degree in plastics engineering, along with his high school girlfriend, who is a student athletic trainer here. My good friend from high school, Justin Sedin, decided to transfer here to play baseball and has gone on to establish himself as one of the best players in the WIAC. Justin’s younger brother Luke will be a sophomore next year and is looking to contribute at a high level on the football team at the quarterback position. 

Inspiring grad Gervase Thompson
Honors College student and Scholar Athlete Gervase Thompson is seeking a career outside of the Midwest / UW-Stout

Chancellor Frank and I started our careers here at Stout around the same time. As I am wrapping up my Stout career, I just want to comment on how thoroughly impressed I am with her dedication to assimilate with student life, especially that of the student athletes at this university. She is extremely supportive of athletics, and it shows through her commitment to attend as many sporting events as she can. 

One thing about Chancellor Frank that sticks out to me is how she personally reaches out either by handwritten letters or email to congratulate student athletes on their accomplishments. 

Those are first class gestures that I deeply respect because it shows how much she cares about this university. 

One of my all-time favorite interactions with Chancellor Frank occurred off campus. I happened to be walking around the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, and I ran into her while crossing the street. We stopped and had a casual conversation in the middle of the street on an early summer Saturday morning. It is little moments like this that will stick with me forever after leaving Stout.

Inspiring Graduates

All Inspiring Graduates News
Inspiring Graduates Share Their Stout Experiences Featured Image

Inspiring Graduates Share Their Stout Experiences

Celebrate our graduates as they cross the commencement stage and reflect on the journey that brought them here
Inspiring Graduate: Lauren Arenz, B.S. Early Childhood Education Featured Image

Inspiring Graduate: Lauren Arenz, B.S. Early Childhood Education

‘My experiences at UW-Stout have made a monumental difference helping me to better understand my future aspirations in life.’
Inspiring Graduate: Genevieve Czaplewski, B.S. Applied Social Science Featured Image

Inspiring Graduate: Genevieve Czaplewski, B.S. Applied Social Science

‘I looked for a place where I could simultaneously feel at home and be challenged academically, socially and athletically. Stout ticked all those boxes.’