SJU accounting and finance major thriving on campus
Academics Campus & Community Student Features
February 21, 2023
By Frank Rajkowski
If the Durran Thompson who arrived on campus in the fall of 2019 could see himself today, that younger version would be amazed at all that’s transpired in the course of four years.
“I never would have expected as a first-year to accomplish everything I have so far,” said Thompson ’23, an international student from Nassau, The Bahamas. “This institution has prepared me for things that I never thought I’d experience in my lifetime. I’ve been able to travel to places I never thought I would have been able to. And because of that, I’m so grateful.
“The younger version of me would never believe all the things I’ve been able to do here.”
Importance of being involved
That list is indeed long. It starts with the Saint John’s Student Senate, where he currently serves as president and was previously the activities and allocations board chair.
“Senate has always been a big thing for me because I love helping the community and volunteering,” Thompson said. “Seeing how I can better the student experience in general.”
Thompson has also been a residential assistant since he was a sophomore, serves as treasurer of the Archipelago Caribbean Association (an organization designed to promote Caribbean cultures at the College of Saint Benedict and SJU), has acted in numerous productions as part of the CSB/SJU Opera Workshop and has served as a tour guide for the CSB and SJU Admissions Office.
“While some students ask for changes to be made, Durran identifies the changes he wants to see, then runs for a position that will allow him to implement those changes,” said Ben Trnka, an assistant professor of accounting and finance at CSB and SJU who has worked Thompson closely.
“I respect his willingness to try and implement the changes he wants to see. I further respect his willingness to try again if at first he didn’t succeed.”
Thompson is also a member of the Entrepreneur Scholars (E-Scholars) Program through which he has traveled to Bosnia, where and he and his fellow members were able to network with professionals, including CSB and SJU alums. Through the program, he developed his own business – Power Pack.
“It’s a giftbox company that includes products made by Bennies and Johnnies for Bennies and Johnnies,” he said. “We always want to focus on keeping it local and supporting our own.”
Good job lined up
That resume is impressive enough. But the accounting and finance major also is a standout in the classroom who already has lined up a job as an enterprise risk consultant in the Twin Cities with prestigious accounting firm Ernst & Young following his graduation in May.
“It’s been a joy to watch Durran flourish in so many areas on campus,” said Boz Bostrom, a professor of accounting and finance at CSB and SJU. “He’s a star student with a fantastic job lined up. But he stays active as the Senate President, an E-Scholar, a Red Talks speaker and in the arts – participating in the Opera Workshop and the spring musical. Durran is making the most of his Saint John’s experience and is a role model for all students to look up to.
“He mixes strong finance skills with his unique flair, confidence and charisma. It’s always a treat to listen to him give a class presentation as I know he will come up with unique and exciting ways of describing financial decisions.”
Close ties to faculty
Thompson is quick to credit faculty members like Bostrom and Trnka with helping him succeed during his time on campus.
“This institution really (pays) attention to making sure your unique experience and journey is going to be what you want it to be,” he said. “And because of that, I’ve always been able to be a high-achieving student in every class I’ve been in.”
For example, when he had a question in a class he was taking from Bostrom and texted the professor at 12:30 a.m. – not expecting a response until the next day.
He got one 20 minutes later, answering his questions and alleviating his concern.
“It’s very comforting when you have professors you know are willing to put in their effort and time just for you,” he said. “That means a lot.”
Help from the network
Thompson said that connection extends to the school’s alumni network. It was a CSB graduate who taught at his high school who first pointed him toward CSB and SJU, and a more recent Bennie graduate who helped him land an internship at Ernst & Young that led to the position he will begin in July.
“What’s the Johnnie and Bennie alumni network like? It’s real,” he said.
“When you’re really in it, you’re in it. There are so many people reaching out to you, so many people wanting to know what’s going to happen in your future, so many people who want to help as much as possible. They care so much about you.”
But perhaps more important than his many achievements on campus, or even his future professional prospects, Thompson said his time at CSB and SJU has helped him become a more well-rounded person.
“These institutions – CSB and SJU – push you to always be involved,” he said. “To always be a good person above all else. That’s one of the biggest reasons I’ve been so involved (on campus) to this day. I love helping the community, I love helping other students, I love listening to other people.”
Decision pays off
Thompson said it was scary to arrive in a new place so far away from home four years ago. But looking back, he considers it the best choice he could have made.
“If I didn’t attend CSB and SJU, I don’t even want to think about (what that would have been like),” he said. “I would have missed out on all the connections I’ve gained, all my peers and close friends. I would have missed out on becoming the leader I am today.
“I’m really grateful and thankful to be here. I don’t even want to think about a world without CSB and SJU.”