Garrett Sawyer ’14 came to Illinois State with a sibling advantage. Based on his older brother’s experiences as a Redbird, Sawyer decided he wanted to be involved in the Honors Program.

“I knew going into Illinois State that there were great benefits to being in the Honors Program. Immediately there were scheduling benefits, but I also received several scholarships because of the Honors Program throughout my college career,” said Sawyer, who majored in nursing. “The greatest benefit I received from the Honors Program was it allowed me to complete independent research.”

With the aid of Mennonite College of Nursing Professor Susan Kossman, Sawyer delved into exploring the transformation within health care from paper charting systems to electronic charting systems. He created a survey to evaluate the transformation and analyzed responses. The research involved Sawyer serving as the coordinator and communicator between the hospital and the University.

“It was a lot of work on my part, and doing all of that work would not have been possible without the stipend that I got through the Honors Program for undergraduate research,” Sawyer said.

The effort resulted in Sawyer attending a Midwestern Nursing Research Conference. He was one of few undergraduates chosen to present.

“The research I conducted really showed me that I would be capable of going on to pursue more education. I don’t think I would have had that realization without the Honors Program making it possible.”

Now ready to enter the job market as a registered nurse, Sawyer credits the Honors Program experience and his stellar nursing classes for his confidence. He plans to use the training and research experience to pursue his nursing career in the greater Chicago area.

“Progressively throughout the different semesters students get more and more independent,” Sawyer said. “I think the nursing program prepared us really well for getting our licenses, working as a nurse, and how nursing really works.”