A digital special section of | Subscribe

Gretchen Thompson

Gretchen Thompson

Owner, managing partner | IMPACT Physical Therapy of Champaign | Class of 2001

At last count, there were 39 officially sanctioned women’s sororities and fraternities on the UI campus.

Gretchen Thompson has an idea for No. 40 — based on her own personal Illini experience.

“I often thought that making a sorority for single mothers might be beneficial; having others to share struggles with as an undergrad with a young child, and possibly trading off watching each other’s child, or allowing them friendships to improve my time studying,” she says.

As a single mom majoring in kinesiology/pre-physical therapy services in the late ’90s and early 2000s, Thompson was admittedly “jealous of the students who had the carefree college experience” back then.

“I enjoyed booking it across campus from kinesiology classes at IMPE, now ARC, all the way to the Quad or Freer Hall in just 10 minutes. I don’t have many bar or partying memories, but have to admit C-Street was the spot back then.

“But really, I was boring. I enjoyed the Union, sitting and studying in a historic building. I enjoyed walking through the Natural History Building. I’d say my favorite class was Anthropology, learning about the Bog People and Egyptian history. I also enjoyed the adjoined libraries — undergrad to grad — and the ease of changing scenery to study in different atmospheres.”

Thompson made the most of her UI degree, working her way up her field until 2016, when she became the owner/managing partner of Champaign’s IMPACT Physical Therapy.

She couldn’t have done it without the late, great Essie Meisami, the UI physiology professor who had the most profound impact on her undergrad years.

“He was amazing at helping me finish his class despite having been hospitalized with pneumonia and a pleural effusion for over a week mid-semester,” Thompson says.