The Flora native and broadcast communication major at Mississippi State University saw a handsome, quick-thinking man with his life put together.
He saw a "young" 50-year-old executive at the Black Entertainment Television who had visited countries all over the world, a man who produced music festivals and shares friendships with world leaders like Nelson Mandela.
He wasn't daydreaming. In front of Thompson and his classmates was Paxton Baker, executive vice president and general manager of CENTRIC, a BET channel, whose Rolodex reads like a who's who of global movers and shakers.
The television executive and chairman of the Congressional Awards program visited MSU on Thursday to share insights with students about how to succeed in business and life.
He shared a side of himself usually not mentioned when someone introduces him.
Before he made a name for himself in the entertainment world, he was a two-time high school dropout whose life seemed to be headed nowhere. He made plenty of mistakes, but after looking at his buddies hanging out on the streets, he decided that life wasn't for him.
"I realized I didn't want to end up in some of those places," he said.
Baker decided to set high standards for achievement. While not a stellar student until junior college, Baker worked at his campus radio station when he attended Temple University, even producing his own talk radio programs.
By the time he graduated from college, he had the beginnings of that bulging Rolodex from waiting for jazz musicians after shows and meeting top agents in the business.
So it's no wonder he stresses to students the importance of relationships they develop in college. They helped shape his life.
"I get about 250 e-mails a day," he told one group of students. "I usually don't look at them unless I know the person who wrote them."
With current economic climate, Baker encouraged students to surpass what others expect of them and never stop thinking with a "what if ... " attitude.
As he sat listening to Baker, Thompson saw a future where he achieved as much as or more than the executive speaking to him. However, after hearing Baker speak about the importance of people making things happen for themselves, Thompson plans to get more involved.
"I want to reach some of the same pinnacle he has," Thompson said. "That could be me."