Nicholas Thurman and his family moved around often during his childhood. His father was a basketball coach, which meant his family could see a new town and help shape a new athletic program every few years. When Thurman’s family moved to Weatherford, Oklahoma his sophomore year of high school, he didn’t know then that Southwestern Oklahoma State University would be his springboard to a successful career as an attorney and prosecutor.
Entering college at SWOSU, Thurman was sure he wanted to play basketball for the Bulldogs but was unsure what his major should be. But after just one or two history classes, Thurman was hooked and he knew he wanted to enroll in as many history classes as he could.
Thurman recalls Dr. Hertzel, who was skeptical of Thurman’s dedication to his studies since basketball would sometimes take him out of town during class. He quickly proved himself a dedicated student and a quick study and is in touch with the professor to this day.
Other professors such as Fred Gates, Laura Endicott, Sunu Kodumthara and John Hayden all had a great impact on his education. Their history lessons have stuck with him, guiding his choices and informing his career path as a lawyer. He was also named history student of the year by his professors during his third and final year at Southwestern and was placed on the national Who’s Who list of history majors.
“I was well prepared for law school,” Thurman said. “My professors at Southwestern taught me to be a better writer and how to form a strong oral argument. I use those skills almost every day in my work as a prosecutor.”
Before graduating, he also honed those skills as a member of the student body supreme court. Thurman’s role was to consult with the student government, make recommendations and then approve or reject the bylaws they suggested. The experience gave him the foundations of how to read statutes and helped him solidify a growing interest in the legal field.
SWOSU remained an educational touchstone even after he graduated. Throughout law school at Oklahoma City University, Thurman called on several professors to talk through the history of a certain law or the best strategy to argue his point.
Since earning his law degree, Thurman has worked in private practice and as a prosecutor for several Oklahoma counties. He is currently the assistant district attorney for Pontotoc County where the office of two attorneys reviews between 3,000 and 5,000 cases each year. Working in the office since 2019, Thurman specializes in prosecuting major felonies and resolving cases for the Department of Human Services.
“When I first started out, I thought I wanted to go into oil and gas law,” Thurman said. “But after my first prosecution internship, I realized how rewarding it is to use the law to help children and families.”
Though Thurman lives in Ada with his wife and young kids, he still roots for the Bulldogs when they come to town to square off against East Central University’s Tigers and remains an active board member of the SWOSU Alumni Association.
“I’ve always felt connected to Southwestern because of the culture of the university and the connections I made there,” Thurman said. “You don’t get the same personal touch at a big state school – and you can’t forget it.”