Academics, College of Health Sciences

Faculty Spotlight: Thompson moves with faith

By Hunter Gatling | November 16, 2022

Kinesiology, the study of human body movement, is a term many may be unfamiliar with—even in those entering the healthcare field. But at Charleston Southern University, Dr. Heather Thompson knows kinesiology quite well. 

As an undergraduate at Lander University, she received her B.S in Exercise Science. Thompson continued her studies with an MS in Rehabilitation Science in Physical Therapy from the Medical University of South Carolina, and her Doctor of Physical Therapy from Shenandoah University. 

Heather Thompson

Thompson credits the study of kinesiology with preparing her for advanced education in physical therapy. “Having an undergraduate degree in exercise science very much prepared me for the rigor of PT school,” she said. “It was the best preparation for me to build a foundation for understanding human movement that was necessary for becoming a physical therapist.” 

Prior to becoming a full-time member of the CSU family, Thompson practiced as a physical therapist while simultaneously teaching as an adjunct professor at CSU. When she made the choice to become a professor full time, she leaned on her faith for guidance. “It was hard to leave a job that I loved, but with God’s sovereignty and guidance, I made the decision to come here full time. That was nearly 10 years ago, and I have never once regretted that,” she said.  

Given her educational background and experience in multiple universities, Thompson has seen her fair share of higher education, and to her, nothing compares to Charleston Southern. She explained, “CSU really is something special. I work alongside some really amazing colleagues who constantly offer support and challenge me every day.” 

As much love as she has for healthcare and physical therapy, Thompson also has a fiery passion for education, and above all, educating her students. “I consider myself lucky that I get to do something every day that I love – to teach, to guide, to connect, and to share Jesus’ love. As an educator, I’m able to choose the climate of my classroom.  Just as in healthcare where a patient does not care how much you know, until they know how much you care; I believe this is true for my students as well.  I do this while still creating an environment with clear expectations and professional boundaries.”

Thompson further explains her motivation by her faith and values as a Christian. “Every day my goal is to try to show an unconditional love to my students, and my own children, the way that God loves me and commands me to love others. This love allows me to create an environment that is open and welcoming yet professional and challenging.” 

With the physical therapy and physician assistant programs at CSU in their adolescence, the students not only have an educator in Dr. Thompson, but also a mentor, guiding hand, and above all, a follower of Christ. 

Hunter Gatling is a graduate assistant working in the Office of Marketing & Communication.

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