NNU graduate Derbesy pursues law school

Thom Derbesy is smart. There's no other way to describe it.

Graduating summa cum laude with Northwest Nazarene University's class of 2010, the Juneau, Ala. native has been offered scholarships to some of the most prestigious law schools in the country, and will continue his education at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Penn. Thom is hoping to pursue a career focused on either constitutional law or international law, and he credits his NNU professors with instilling those passions in him.

"I came to NNU because most of my family attended here," Thom says, "but I couldn't have had a better educational experience anywhere else."

A major factor in Thom's positive time at NNU, he says, were the professors with whom he was able to develop very meaningful relationships.

"My first semester at NNU, I took a class from Dr. Shaw and one from Dr. Gismondi. After that, I took every class I could from them."

Drs. Shaw and Gismondi both helped to stoke the passion that Thom had for politics and the political process. In one of Dr. Gismondi's classes, an aspiring local politician, Matt Salisbury, gave a guest lecture. When Thom heard that he was making a run for Idaho's first congressional seat, he signed up to help get him elected.

Although Salisbury's run for Congress fell short, the experience of working on a congressional campaign was invaluable for Thom.

"Because it was a fairly small operation, I was able to do just about every job in the campaign," Thom remembers. "I wrote speeches, worked with the press, organized rallies and just about everything else you could think of."

Salisbury was impressed with Thom's work ethic and talent, and connected Thom with John McCain's presidential campaign in Nevada. With Salsbury's glowing recommendation, Thom was immediately hired as a field representative. By the time the campaign came to an end, Thom was supervising volunteers in three counties. When that election season ended, Thom returned to NNU but had already exhausted his options for political science classes, so he decided to pursue a minor in literature. The professors he met in that department were just as encouraging and enlightening as those he had studied under in political science.

"The professors throughout campus have been incredible," Thom says. "Many of them have become more than just teachers to me--I consider them dear friends. I am incredibly blessed."

As he prepares for the next chapter in his life, law school, Thom knows the work it will take but is not worried.

"It looks daunting, but I'm so excited. The study of law and my personality are a perfect marriage, and my time at NNU has prepared me for whatever lies ahead."