CERDEC Journalist Receives Military-wide Award
May 21, 2008
FORT MONMOUTH, N.J. - Some might argue that America is in the midst of a new Renaissance, as creativity and innovation become essential ingredients of professional success. One look at 2008 Thomas Jefferson Award winner Edric V. Thompson of the Communications-Electronic Research, Development and Engineering Center Public Affairs office should effectively end any debate.
Thompson was awarded the TSJ Award May 16, during an awards ceremony at the Defense Information School at Fort Meade in Maryland.
The Thomas Jefferson Award recognizes excellence in print and broadcast journalism among military and civilian employees across the Department of Defense. Thompson, who was recognized in the category of Feature Article Contributed by a Contractor or a Stringer, called his article, "Aces High," an example of what happens when everything comes together. "I am very honored to have won," he said. "It was a good team effort. I had a good editor and I had good mentors all the way through."
Graduate of the Cambridge University Master's program in English, and former Robert Penn Warren Scholar, Thompson has earned a reputation for excellence during his time as a civilian Army Public Affairs specialist, this award adding to an already stellar reputation.
Thompson wrote the gambling addiction article while an intern in the Department of the Army Public Affairs Intern Program at the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command. During his internship, Thompson spent a few weeks interning with APG News at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.
"We were talking about what was coming up for the next week and what we should work on," he said. "Some people had been talking about going to Atlantic City for the weekend and the Super Bowl was about to take place. So the two just stuck in my head, and I said why not do an article on gambling addiction," he said.
The article, which ran on February 1, 2007, was submitted by RDECOM for the Thomas Jefferson Award. After competing against peers at the regional and then the service branch level, Thompson was ultimately selected as the category winner from among the entire Department of Defense.
Thompson's success comes after a relatively short time in Federal service. Prior to accepting a position within the intern program, Thompson was a university English instructor at Tennessee State University and Western Kentucky University.
"When I was in graduate school at Cambridge, I enjoyed the English discipline so much that I began to think I wanted to teach," he said.
"I enjoyed teaching, though it was very intense. However, I was putting in a lot of hours and teaching very large classes. I realized I was teaching more classes than the average instructor was teaching." So after seven years as an educator, Thompson found he needed a change.
A native of Alabama, Thompson returned home where he worked as a marketer for an e-Commerce venture, he continued to look for a position that would be the right fit. In 2006, that opportunity arrived.
"I was very fortunate to get an offer to be a part of the Army's intern program," he said. In the subsequent two years, he has held positions at APG and Fort Meade in Maryland, and at the Office of the Chief of Public Affairs for the Army at the Pentagon as part of his internship before accepting a position with CERDEC Public Affairs.
"I have enjoyed all of the places that I have been and they have all helped me," he said.
He spoke of the positive influence of his duty stations, discussing his movement from RDECOM, DINFOS and Office of the Chief of Public Affairs for the Army at the Pentagon, to his current post at Fort Monmouth. "But I would have to say that while all of those things were wonderful, working here at the CERDEC Public Affairs office is definitely the most enjoyable thing I have done so far."
Yet professional success is only part of what drives Thompson.
"I like to be creative, whatever realm it is," he said. "Whether it is composing music, writing articles, cooking, I like the art of putting things together."
Of all of his creative ventures, Thompson expresses his strongest feelings for music. "Not only do I like to shop for all kinds of music, I like to listen to live music, and buy musical instruments," he said. This self- declared "hobby" has led to the creation of a serious collection that includes five guitars, including a Gibson Les Paul and a Fender Stradivarius.
Thompson also has a passion for musical performance. "I started out playing piano," he said. "I also played harmonica, mandolin and I can get around on a bass if I have to, but primarily, I play guitar. That's my instrument of choice."
Beyond performing, Thompson is a prolific composer, writing much of the music he performs. "I love playing live," he said. "When I was in England, I played in the pubs and bars," he said. "They allowed me to play, but told me I couldn't talk."
Professionally, Thompson says that features and profile pieces are his favorite types of articles, and it is likely his genuine, easy-going nature helps him execute these with ease. "I really enjoy writing personality pieces, bringing the character out," he said.
Personally, he cites the help and support of the mentors and supervisors, particularly Debbie Horne, editor, APG News and Larry McCaskill, Acting Chief, Public Affairs, RDECOM Headquarters, as major contributors to his success. "Both of them were very good mentors who helped me, and they deserve as much credit as I do for this," he said. "I am very thankful for the time and effort that Debbie Horne and Larry McCaskill put into helping me."
Horne said Thompson was a pleasure to work with. "Edric was phenomenal, and I always knew he would be a success," said Horne.