Fearless fencer

Since graduating from Temple in 2012, women’s fencing star Kamali Thompson, CST '12, has been training fiercely, with her sights set on the 2020 U.S. Olympic team.

image of Kamali Thompson
Photo credit: Joseph V. Labolito

Amidst an intense athletic schedule, she’s also earned her MBA at Rutgers Business School and is currently in medical school (also at Rutgers) to become an orthopedic surgeon. Here’s what she has to say about her multi-pronged, exceedingly ambitious career.

When and how did you get into fencing? I’m from Teaneck, New Jersey, and fencing is very popular there. I started in high school, though most people start in a private club when they’re very young, so I was a little behind the curve. But I was actually pretty decent at it!

What was a turning point in your high school fencing career? In 2006, I started training at the Peter Westbrook Foundation located at the Fencer’s Club in New York City. It’s the the oldest fencing club in the country. Peter Westbrook was a six-time Olympian and he’s African American and Japanese, so he wanted to make a club for kids in New York City who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford fencing. Our club is the most diverse in the country, and we have tons of Olympians. By my senior year, I was on the national circuit.

Why was Temple a good college choice for you? At nationals, I was introduced to Nikki Franke, CPH ’74, [former Olympian and renowned Temple fencing coach], and all my mentors said Temple would be a great place for me. When I visited campus, I really liked the diversity. Temple’s team atmosphere was so great. The older girls really helped me out and Coach Franke was the best coach I could ever have asked for.

Can you name the biggest influence on your ambition? My mom. I was in 8th grade the first time we saw fencing, and she pulled me aside and said, “You’re definitely going to do this,” and she took me to the foundation. My mom pushing me to do things that made me uncomfortable is probably why I go for things the way I do now, like medical school and getting my MBA.

—By Emily Kovach