Nathan Thompson Furman University

Class of 2016
Hometown: Arlington, Va.

I'm very interested in examining how the world works and how human interactions shape the course of history in the short and long term. I don't think there's a much better way to do that other than studying political science at Furman.

Life as a Political Science Major

  • Why did you decide to come to Furman?

      My sister came to Furman and I saw the relationships she had with her professors and friends. That really impacted my decision. Furman was also generous with scholarships, and I was attracted to the beautiful campus. I was also drawn to the Political Science department because it's very strong here.

  • Why did you decide to be a Political Science major?

      I grew up in Washington, D.C., so I was around a political environment for most of my life. I read The Washington Post most days and talked about politics with friends and family. I'm very interested in examining how the world works and how human interactions shape the course of history in the short and long term. I don't think there's a much better way to do that other than studying political science at Furman.

  • Best experience in the department:

      One was a May Experience to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland with Dr. Aiesi and Dr. Fleming. We spent three weeks studying religious conflict and political history. We met with political party leaders, clergy and regular folks. We got to discuss their stories and the work they're doing to repair tensions between Catholics and Protestants. It was a great example of engaged learning because we could see a real example of something we've studied in textbooks. Another great experience was a conference on religion and diplomacy in Utah, where I got to see how religion could be used as a helpful tool in policy making.

  • Favorite class:

      Introduction to Political Thought. I'm someone who wants answers to big questions, such as what it means to live right and what the good life is. Political thought really demands that and doesn't let life float past you.

  • Favorite professors:

      Dr. Fleming, Dr. Storey, and Dr. Aiesi. I love Dr. Storey's teaching style and his ability to get students to think critically and develop a position. Dr. Aiesi really takes an interest in his students and I appreciate that. He's even had us over to his house. And Dr. Fleming is very engaging and pays attention to your interests. He recognized one of my interests and offered an opportunity to investigate it further.

  • Career goals:

      I could see it going a couple ways. One option is law school because competing in mock trial has been a lot of fun. I've also considered something in foreign service or non-governmental agencies, working in areas of policy and conflict transformation. Another possibility is incorporating political and religious knowledge into a business.

  • Internship experience:

      Last summer, I interned at the Hudson Institute, a think-tank for the Center of Religious Freedom. I conducted research on the persecution of religious minorities in Syria, Nigeria, and Egypt. Some of my research was used in my professor's congressional testimony. I also interned at the Center for Public Justice and did research on debt and deficit policy.

Best of List

  • Best study location:

      The basement of Geer residence hall is the best place to crank out papers.

  • Favorite activity:

      Playing the piano. I practice in the music building, the chapel, and the Lakeside practice rooms.

  • Best thing about Greenville:

      The people are so friendly. It's so different from D.C. because people aren't always on their phones. They actually look you in the eye. It's a very warm and inviting environment.

  • Biggest challenge:

      The biggest challenge has been giving myself space to relax and enjoy parts of college that don't center around academics. It's really easy to think that the only important thing is to be academically successful, but Furman offers a lot of other ways to help you grow as an individual.

  • Favorite place to eat:


  • Favorite Furman tradition:

      Homecoming and the midnight swing dancing

  • Best campus dining spot:


Helpful Tips

  • Choosing a major:

      Find a balance between something you are interested in and something that you think will be helpful. That way you're not doing something purely for the sake of financial gain because then you'll hate it, but you're also not doing anything without any foresight. You have to find a balance between practicality and interest.

  • Studying:

      Find spaces where you can set your phone aside and not be distracted by other people. Being able to focus for longer chunks of time is the best way to study, but it's very easy to situate yourself where you will be distracted.

  • Getting involved on campus:

      The activities fair is helpful, but it's smart to do some research so you have an idea of where your interests meet the available opportunities available at Furman. You're not necessarily going to get personal invitations from every group. You have to go get it yourself.

  • Making friends:

      Be willing to strike up a conversation. There are 700 or 800 other new students that are trying to make friends as well. You're not the only person in the process.

  • What isn't in the brochure:

      Students are eager to discuss things with one another, at least in my experience. We're open to hearing about what you're interested in or what you're working on. There's a general sense of community here that I wasn't expecting, one that encourages others to excel. You're with people who want to see you succeed.

  • Living on campus:

      Do your laundry so the room doesn't smell. Communicate with your roommate about your schedules and who's waking up when. It's the little things that can create tension, so just be up front and communicate about what you're planning to do.


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