Illinois State’s nursing program is demanding. It’s even harder for Michael Binder.

The junior nursing major doesn’t have a left hand. For some, that kind of physical disability might have been enough to dampen a personal passion, or alter a career path. But not Binder.

From the moment he arrived on campus, the Downers Grove native has been deeply committed to his passion for nursing, exercising an unusually strong will to overcome obstacles. Now, Binder’s will has been rewarded with the Bobbie McCambridge Endowed Nursing Scholarship. The scholarship recognizes a Mennonite College of Nursing (MCN) student who hasn’t had an easy path but has refused to let those difficulties define them.

“My life has been about adaptation and change. I’m not going to be able to do everything by the book, and to me that’s perfectly fine,” said Binder. “I can’t thank the donor enough for this wonderful opportunity, for getting the financial burden off my back so I can pursue my dream.”

Binder, who is the first recipient of the McCambridge scholarship, is pursuing his Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) degree. He was always interested in science but wanted to serve others too. A career in nursing, where he could direct patient care and affect patient outcomes, will allow him to do that.

Nursing is a very difficult major at ISU. In addition to challenging classes, students have clinical training responsibilities that can involve travel and additional costs. Some don’t have time for a part-time job.

But the scholarship is more than just money to Binder. It’s personal validation.

“Michael has obviously overcome lots of obstacles, and he has lots of obstacles yet to overcome,” said Dianne Clemens, professor and assistant dean for MCN’s undergraduate program. “But what’s important with a scholarship such as this for Michael is to know that somebody believes in him. There’s nothing more powerful than knowing that somebody believes in them so much, that they will put down their money.”

The scholarship is named for Bobbie McCambridge, who suffered serious injuries in a car accident while she was attending nursing school. Despite that, she graduated as a diploma nurse on time in 1959. The nursing scholarship was established in 2014 to honor McCambridge’s perseverance and determination and to recognize a student, such as Binder, who lives up to that legacy.

“Scholarship support helps those students really focus on the important job of being the best nurse they can be,” said Jenny Ward, director of development for MCN. “Every student has a passion. Every student has a story. And every donor makes a difference in somebody’s life.”

Learn more about Binder’s story by watching the video above.

You can support the Mennonite College of Nursing by making a gift.

Bob Tomaski can be reached at Ryan Denham can be reached at