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Nontraditional student, exceptional results

May 6, 2022

Connor McCumber receives his B.A. in Anthropology this May from IU South Bend. He has taken a nontraditional path while achieving an extraordinary level of success.

He was born in Paw Paw, Mich., and grew up in Baroda. A move across the border to Indiana ended up playing a huge role in his next endeavors.

I had been working in factories for a while, and when my mom moved to the South Bend area, I saw there was a lot of work in South Bend, McCumber says. I liked it, so I stayed.

He also seized the opportunity to return to school.

I had an interest in linguistic anthropology and forensic anthropology long before I was even considering coming back to school. I just never thought it was something I could actually pursue, he says.

The 24-year-old freshman thrived in his studies, and as the semesters progressed, he began to consider graduate school possibilities. An abiding interest in the field of criminal justice led him to believe that law school might be worth a chance.

I ended up studying for the LSAT for about six months, McCumber says. I took it and I did very well, so I decided to do a second one, and I did even better.

That second LSAT netted a score of 171, an elite figure which places him around the 98th percentile overall.

At that level, a lot of doors open up, he says.

He has elected to matriculate at the law school of the University of Notre Dame.

I know the school, I know the program, and it’s close to home, McCumber says. I considered the prospect of exploring and moving far away, but I wanted to work in the Midwest, so Notre Dame seemed to be the best option. We negotiated the scholarship money and housing opportunities and they’ve really made me feel welcome.

McCumber himself knows about making students feel welcome. At IU South Bend, he took part in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ peer mentor program.

Especially as a nontraditional student, it’s been great to work with other students who might be older, or unsure, or undecided about some things. Being someone who has been in that position, it’s been satisfying to help guide some of those students through a process that’s similar to what I went through, talking to them about where they need to go and what they need to do next, he says.

He starts his law classes at Notre Dame in August, and he salutes the pivotal role IU South Bend played in his achievements.

I do credit IUSB with a lot of my academic success. I’ve heard plenty of horror stories about universities that are just too large for an individual to be recognizable by faculty and staff, and I never felt that here, McCumber says. I admire and appreciate the individualized focus, the one-on-one dynamic that a lot of the professors have with the students. I don’t think I would have done quite as well without that. I’m not somebody who’s shy about asking questions, so I tend to spend a lot of time bugging my professors. Nobody ever told me no’ or ignored me. I realize now how big of an impact that had, especially in my first couple of semesters. It’s a hard transition for someone who’s been away from academia to come back into it. Pretty much everyone I encountered along the way did something to help me break down those barriers to entry.

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