Kinesiology major Nathan Farnsworth says community, connections with classmates helped him complete journey to commencement

During his first year at Wayne State University, Nathan Farnsworth ‘23 wasn’t sure he had made a good decision. Having grown up in North Branch, Michigan, a small town about an hour and a half north of Detroit that he described as “very rural, with fields and farms everywhere,” he was not sure urban living agreed with him. Today, he cannot imagine having spent his college years anywhere else.

A smiling Farnsworth standing outdiirio
Farnsworth enjoying the outdoors

“The more time I spent on campus and in Detroit, the more I enjoyed it,” Farnsworth said. “I can take a five-to-10-minute ride on the QLine and go downtown with my family or friends. There isn’t much to do in North Branch, but there is so much to do here. I love the change of environment, and it has been really good for me.” 

A first-generation college student, Farnsworth said he was not familiar with many colleges and universities. However, he knew he needed to attend a school that would prepare him for a career in dentistry. 

“I knew I could pick any school with a good predental program that would prepare me for the Dental Admission Test (DAT), and Wayne State was one of them,” he said. “It also helped that my best friends chose to come here for nursing school.”

Farnsworth always wanted to pursue a career in health but did not want to be a doctor or nurse. After shadowing his dentist at his mother’s recommendation, he secured an internship in a dental office. 

“I was like a dental assistant, and then they hired me,” he said. “It was a hands-on learning experience, and I loved it, so I wanted to continue along that path.”

Because of his experiences as a student-athlete at North Branch High School, Farnsworth decided to major in kinesiology, one of many programs available in the Wayne State University College of Education.

“You can major in anything as a predental student,” Farnsworth said. “In high school, I played football, basketball and baseball. I grew up playing sports, and I enjoy watching sports. I wanted to study how the body moves, and that is what kinesiology is all about.” 

Farnsworth faced a few challenges on the road to commencement. He said two in particular illustrate why he is Warrior Strong. 

“My sophomore year, the university — like most of the world — went virtual,” he said. “It was a big adjustment and a learning experience for everyone, and we are still adapting.” 

Farnsworth sitting in front of the W on campus

Last December, Farnsworth faced a more serious challenge. He was diagnosed with stage four cancer and began chemotherapy. His North Branch and Wayne State communities rallied around him and gave him the support and encouragement he needed to continue — and complete — his journey. Farnsworth said a few people in the College of Education were among the many who helped him achieve his goals. 

“My professors Patrick Mason and Mario Vassallo, advisor Fawne Allossery, and internship coordinator Elana Lofman have been extremely helpful and supportive,” he said. “I have been through a lot, and I appreciate the support I have gotten from them, other faculty and staff, and the university. Without their support, I would not be in the position I am today. I would not be going to dental school.” 

This fall, Farnsworth — who aspires to become a pediatric dentist, orthodontist or oral surgeon — will begin the dental program at the University of Detroit Mercy. He said his experiences at Wayne State prepared him for the next leg of his journey. 

“My kinesiology advisor and predental advisor were both very helpful,” he said. “The relationships I established with them helped me select the right courses, prepare for the DAT, improve my interviewing skills and assemble a strong application for dental school.” 

According to Farnsworth, participating in student organizations also contributed to his success. 

“I didn’t do anything my first year, and I was at home my second year because everything was online,” he said. “During my last two years, I realized I needed to get myself out there. I joined the Wayne State club volleyball team and some predental clubs, which were beneficial because I met and took courses with students who had the same interests. They were familiar faces on campus, study partners and advisors. For example, I talked to older students who had already taken the DAT about test preparation resources, test-taking strategies, various courses and different professors. After a while, I found myself serving as a resource for new students coming into the program. Being involved helped me meet new people, many of whom I am still friends with today. Having those relationships with other students, building community and developing a support network are essential to student success.”

Farnsworth also offered some additional advice to prospective students.

“Tour Wayne State’s campus and reach out to advisors and current students to get advice and answers to questions before making a final choice,” he said. “Doing those two things allowed me to discover what the university and Detroit had to offer and make the right decision.”

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