Myra Thompson – Illinois Nomination & Photography by Michael Sullivan Photography Issue 60 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
Nomination: Myra Thompson is passionate about Irish dance and music. She currently dances for Hughes Farrelly Irish Dance. Myra trains 4-5 days a week and is currently preparing for the Great Britain Championships and the Mid America Regionals where she hopes to qualify for the next World Championship in Montreal, Quebec. She’s been a world qualifier 4 times and has traveled to Scotland, Ireland, Canada, and many states within the US. Myra loves music and plays several instruments including the guitar, Irish fiddle, ukulele, and piano and she also sings. She is an avid animal lover and volunteers at a local children’s farm. She is very interested in teaching and has received an internship in teaching for Spring 2023.
Image by Monica Thompson
Tell us about Irish Dance. I started dancing when I was just 3 years old! My parents would take me to a local Irish cultural center and I saw the dancers and really wanted to try it.
What was it like getting to travel for a competition the very first time vs now? I started traveling locally and my first major competition was in Michigan. But now I’ve gotten to travel around the country and world. The furthest I’ve traveled to is Scotland and I am traveling to England for the first time in October. It is crazy to think about how I started locally and now have traveled around the world.
Which has been your favorite competition and why? I had the most fun on my first trip to Ireland! It was the first major competition with my new dance school and we went with other families from our school. It was a different feeling to travel with friends and get to spend some time and have fun with them in another country. After the competition in Killarney my parents rented a car and we drove to county Mayo to visit family that we have in Kiltimagh, County Mayo. I got to meet some cousins and see where my great great grandmother was born.
What has dancing in this capacity taught you? It has taught me that winning isn’t everything and the experience is worth more than any trophies I receive. These competitions are so hard with the top 1% of dancers attending. I’ve had a few successes at the National level but for the most part the overseas competitions have been about the experience, seeing new places, and meeting new people from all over the world! Irish dance is a very subjective sport, so it has taught me a lot about self-worth and how to lose a competition with grace.
What is a favorite memory and/or accomplishment with Irish Dance? In 2019 I placed 3rd in the Midwest, qualified for the World Championships, and finally got to stand on the podium and bring home a perpetual trophy and regional sash. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic I was not able to attend the Worlds in 2020 or 2021 as they were canceled but my World Qualification status was carried over to Belfast 2022. In 2021 our Nationals went ahead in Phoenix, and I placed my highest ever at a Nationals by getting 13th place and double qualifying for the Worlds. At our regional competition in in November 2021 I placed 7th and World Qualified for a 3rd time for Worlds 2022!! It was the first time in my dance career that I qualified multiple times for the same event.
Photography by Michael Sullivan Photography
When did you start playing musical instruments, which is your favorite and why? When I was 7, I started taking Irish fiddle lessons. I did that for a few years and then one Christmas I got a ukulele. I taught myself to play the ukulele and then wanted to go bigger with a guitar! My favorite is guitar because it feels the most natural to me and I can play a variety of music on the guitar. I still like Irish music and just recently went back to taking fiddle lessons.
What genre do you generally play? Do you have a favorite go-to song and if so what is it? I mostly lean towards classic rock music. I play everything and know some older songs to sing to relatives.
Who do you play for and where? I play for myself mostly. I have played for family, and I’ve done a few solo performances with my school choir.
Tell us more about your love for animals and your experiences with them. I have always been an animal lover. I’ve always grown up with a dog in the house and have constantly begged my mom to get more animals. I started volunteering at a farm and it has been one of the best experiences. Just being around animals helps with my anxiety.
What do you do at the local children's farm? I normally work with the animals and let kids in and out of the animal areas. I teach the kids information about the animals and their names. I also teach them how to pet the animals and to be kind to them.
Why did you choose this particular place to spend your volunteer time? I absolutely love working with kids and animals.
What have you learned about yourself volunteering here? I’ve learned that in the future I want to have many animals. I’ve also learned that I really want to work with kids in the future.
Where will you be interning next summer and what are you most excited to get to do there? I will be interning on work release during my second semester of my senior year. I’m most excited that I will get to work in the classroom with some of my former junior high teachers.
Photography by Michael Sullivan Photography
How did you find and why did you choose Michael Sullivan Photography for your photographer? My mom found Michael because she saw a friend’s pictures on social media that Michael had taken. He was local and his pictures were amazing! He also does a lot of dance photos and I’m hoping to have another shoot with him when I get my new Irish dance dress!
What was your experience like? What did you love most about it? Michael made it really easy! I was a little shy at first and not sure what to do but Michael coached me through. We had to move fast the day of my shoot as a thunderstorm was rolling in. We managed to squeeze in some amazing photos in just an hour!
What inspiring things about you does your nomination not cover? I am a very caring and loving person. I am always willing to help those in need. I love my family deeply and love having conversations with my oldest Aunt who is 93 years old! She was a teacher and I look up to her.
What are some of your favorite things? Some of my favorite things: binge watching The Office and Stranger Things, classic rock, musical theatre, traveling, and hanging out with my friends
If you were to present a topic to a group of your peers, what would it be and why? I would talk to my peers about being kind and understanding of others. You never know what other people are going through in their lives. I have anxiety and it’s very hard for me when others aren't understanding of my situation. I have worked very hard to break out of my anxiety issues and would like others to know that they aren't alone in dealing with mental health problems. I've had a lot of people help me through my anxiety and I am always happy to help others work through similar issues.
What is the hardest thing you have ever accomplished, and how did you do it? My junior year of high school was very hard for me due to my anxiety. I thankfully have great friends and family around me that helped me through it, but I had to tell myself every day that I can get through this!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be where you are today? Never give up and listen to the advice you give others. Every day is a new day and you have a chance to make yourself better.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years/what are your plans? I hope to be out of college and starting my future career. I also hope to be looking for my own place to live.
What is your favorite activity or pastime that was not in your nomination? I really love crocheting and making pottery. I am taking a pottery class in school and hope to continue to do it as a hobby in the future.
Do you have a hidden talent? What is it? You can show me a short clip from The Office and I can explain what happens in the whole episode.
3 Things on your bucket list 1.) Travel more 2.) Live on a farm 3.) Graduate from college
Who do you find inspiring? I find my friends inspiring! One of my best friends Kate always inspires me to push myself to accomplish my goals.
What about you inspires others/why do you think you are inspiring? I like to think that I inspire others by being kind. I always try to be nice to everyone I meet and do acts of kindness for others.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us? When I was in Belfast Northern Ireland, I wrote an inspiring quote on the peace wall.
Look for Myra in issue 60 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!