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Illinois State University history and political science double major Michael Shurhay reflects on his Illinois State experience.

Senior Michael Shurhay looks back on his undergraduate experience

Michael Shurhay’s extensive involvement on campus has unlocked transformative experiences uniquely available to Illinois State University students.

In his four years at Illinois State, the senior history and political science major, has interned for local governments, traveled abroad with the Big Red Marching Machine, fired up the crowd at Arch Madness with the Pep Band, and supported student organizations in the Student Government Association.

Shurhay will graduate in May and start a new chapter in his Redbird journey in the fall when he will enroll in Illinois State’s college student personnel administration master’s program. Even though he won’t be leaving town after commencement, Shurhay can’t help but reflect on his undergraduate experience.

Originally from Romeoville, Shurhay said he knew during his first visit, Illinois State would be where he wanted to get his education.

“Something about it really spoke to me,” he said. “You aren’t too far from anything. It is a relatively short drive to Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis. And the town of Normal itself really stuck out with the close relationship between the town and the campus. It is just phenomenal.”

Through the political science program, he earned internships in the city manager’s offices of Romeoville and Normal. Shurhay said those experiences were great for his development, but he wasn’t completely sure working in government was his path.

Throughout his time at Illinois State, he was involved with the Student Government Association. That experience put him in contact with many constituencies across campus and developed in him a further interest in higher education. Dean of Students John Davenport told Shurhay that Student Affairs might be what he is looking for.

“I figured it could be a good option for me,” Shurhay said. “I love being around the University. I loved working in student government, working with faculty members, committees, and student organizations.” Even though he changed his career path a few times, his constant was being a trumpet player in the Big Red Marching Machine. Traveling as a member of the band was the genesis for some of his most meaningful moments as an undergrad. His favorite trip was to Ireland in 2017, where the band won Best Overall Band in both the Dublin St. Patrick’s Day Parade and in Limerick’s International Band Competition.

“It was the trip of a lifetime,” he said. “Playing music with your friends and seeing all of the sights was just magnificent.”

He also played in the Illinois State University Pep Band during the volleyball and basketball seasons. Shurhay especially enjoyed playing the last three years at the Missouri Valley Conference basketball tournament in St. Louis.

Looking back on the past four years, his advice to future Redbirds is to become as involved with as many organizations and events on campus as possible.

“It can be hard,” he said. “When I first came here, I thought all I would have time to do is the band. Over time, I started getting better and more intentional with my time management. It can be great sitting and watching Netflix all day, but the rewards for getting out there and being involved are potentially life-changing.”

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