By Elise Kidd
Paula Thompson attended the University of Montevallo in 1970 and graduated after completing an 11-month program for her master’s. She graduated in 1974 with her Bachelor of Science in vocational home economics, but she loved the campus so much that she convinced her parents to let her stay and get her master’s. She graduated in 1975 with her Master of Arts and Teaching.
“In 1970 and 1975, Montevallo was what I needed. Going to college, you’re never sure what you’re getting yourself into,” said Thompson. “When I started, I had a black and white television and a manual typewriter. The world was different, and I needed somewhere that was small like Montevallo.”
Despite attending a small school, Thompson’s achievements after Montevallo are not small in any way. She won multiple awards and continued to prove herself as an outstanding teacher in home economics before her retirement in 2015. She even made it to the top five in representing Jefferson County schools in the Jacksonville Hall of Fame. She also won an alumni award from UM in 2015 called the Ruth Stovall Outstanding Alumni Award in Family and Consumers Science.
“I remember Ruth being at Montevallo when I was there actually. She was extremely instrumental in the program of Home Economics at UM,” Thompson said.
Thompson made herself at home on campus, living in Main for her first year and then Hanson for her second and third. In her fourth year, Thompson decided to join a sorority, ultimately ending up in Phi Mu and living in Tutwiler. Being in Greek life helped her feel more connected on campus, but she didn’t feel like being in Greek life was necessary to know everyone.
“The beauty of Montevallo is you know a lot of people. If you didn’t know their name you knew who they were dating or what kind of car they drove,” Thompson said.
Thompson also was a part of Gold Side during her time at Montevallo. During her first year she helped make costumes for their show. It wasn’t until her senior year that she was in one of the College Night productions.
When asked whether she was still happy with her choice to attend Montevallo, Thompson said, “I was accepted at The University of Alabama and maybe I would’ve fit in there. You can always second guess and wonder ‘what if?’ but I think I ended up where I belong.”
Overall, Thompson looks back on the University of Montevallo with fond memories. From her time in a sorority, which provided her with life-long sisters, to sewing for Gold Side productions, to ultimately winning an alumni award, Thompson feels as though Montevallo is what she needed.
“People always ask, ‘Oh, would you do high school or college over again?’” Thompson said. “I would do college over again. It was fun, but it was Montevallo and that’s what was fun.”