Meet Robert Thurman, a senior nursing student from Champaign. He is an academic senator in the Student Government Association (SGA), an Eagle Scout, one of the founding fathers of Alpha Sigma Phi, and was a Preview guide this past summer.

When Thurman was a junior in high school, he visited Illinois State University.

“I fell in love with the campus quickly,” he said. The small campus feel was one of the things that attracted him, as well as the nursing program at Mennonite College of Nursing (MCN).

“Having great faculty and staff that really want to see their students succeed in nursing is a bonus,” he said.

He pursued nursing because he enjoys helping people. He’s now in the Traditional B.S.N. program.

“I have always felt the need to be there for someone, especially when they aren’t at their best and the need an advocate to help them with any type of illness,” said Thurman. “I am very good with science and mathematics, and I think the career path that I have chosen is a perfect fit.”

Student government

Thurman will serve a second term as an Academic Senator for MCN and Fine Arts this fall

Thurman will serve a second term as an academic senator for MCN and Fine Arts this fall.

This past April, Thurman was appointed for a second term as an academic senator for MCN and the College of Fine Arts.

“I wanted to get involved with the University and be able to have a vote for MCN on campus,” said Thurman. “I want to thank everyone for re-electing me!”

The SGA is comprised of a legislative and executive branch of government. SGA holds 21 voting seats on the Academic Senate, granting SGA a degree of influence that is very rare in higher education. SGA conducts Assembly meetings every other Wednesday during the academic year. Thurman spends about eight hours a week as an academic senator—three hours on Wednesday nights and five hours in the SGA office.

Academic senators help all of the colleges with academic-related business. They recently passed a new initiative called Success Week, which allows students a week before finals to study and prevents professors from giving students back-to-back exams.

“Being an academic senator is a great opportunity to get involved and have your voice heard on campus,” Thurman said. He encourages others who would like to be involved with SGA to contact John Davenport in the Dean of Students Office.

Preview guide

This past summer Thurman was a guide for Preview, ISU’s two-day summer orientation and registration program required for all incoming freshmen. He enjoyed helping new freshmen and their families around campus. During Preview, students meet with advisors and college department staff, sign up for classes, and obtain their Redbird ID.

Jobs for Preview are posted in the spring, and students must be in good standing with the university to apply. Letters of recommendation are also needed. Thurman went through a series of three interviews and then had about 100 hours of training.

Thurman enjoyed his job as a guide for Preview this past summer

Thurman enjoyed his job as a guide for Preview this past summer.

“Being a Preview guide has been a great experience for me,” said Thurman. “It’s a great way to get involved on campus and meet a lot of faculty that you would not get a chance to meet otherwise.”

Fraternity leadership

Thurman is also one of the founding fathers of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity at ISU.

“I never felt like I really wanted to be part of Greek life when I first came to college my freshmen year. That all changed when I met the guys in this group and then we decided to take initiative and make ourselves an official Register Student Organization here on campus. When I look back on it three years down the road, I’m glad to call myself a member of this organization,” he said.

In 2013, Thurman was appointed as the philanthropy director, and in 2014 he was appointed as the alumni director, which is an executive position.

“Both of these positions I was appointed to when I was an underclassmen in my fraternity. It was good for me to gain some leadership experience before I became involved here on campus,” he said.

This fall, Thurman begins his senior year at MCN.

“I’m looking forward to completing my degree next spring and then passing the NCLEX exam next summer,” he said. “Out of all the experiences I have had at ISU, one of the best things for me has been bonding with my classmates. All of them are awesome and always there for you. I honestly think that this nursing school has given me some of the closets friends I have ever had.”

After graduation, Thurman would like to work in an acute care setting for a few years and then he plans to get an advanced degree in nursing leadership.