Larry Wilson and Mark Casanova become first men of color to graduate from IU SON, BloomingtonSenior nursing student Mark Casanova remembers the day four years ago when, as a freshman, he was walking past the School of Nursing (SON) offices in Sycamore Hall, looking at the framed pictures of prior SON graduating classes … “and not seeing one face that I could relate to. It was disheartening, at first, but mostly inspired me to become the first male Latino student to graduate from IU SON, Bloomington!”
Mark will achieve that goal this May, when he will be joined by senior nursing student Larry Wilson, who becomes the first African American male to graduate from our program.
Larry hails from Indianapolis. Mark is from "The Region" (and the small town of Whiting, near Chicago). Upon first landing in Bloomington, Larry remembers thinking, “I can’t believe I got here! The campus itself was like a small town, quite different from anywhere else I’d been.” “The campus was gorgeous, spacious, and so green!,” says Mark. “I loved – and still do – the tree sweaters on Kirkwood: I would totally do that in my own backyard.”
A Hudson and Holland scholarship through IU helped Mark pay his expenses. Scholarships also helped Larry pay for his schooling. In the early days, Larry also turned his personal car into a one-man version of Uber, charging people $5 to take them anywhere in the city.
Both men came to IU driven by their desire to study nursing as a way to help others, a personal goal that was driven – in part – by their desire to make the nursing profession more diverse. “People of all backgrounds need access to healthcare,” says Mark. “Increased diversity of nurses provides greater comfort and familiarity for the patient. Culturally-guided interactions can also promote greater compliance when receiving care by connecting nurses with patients on a far more personal level.”