Indiana State University Newsroom

Jennifer J. Piker Scholarship Honors Her Dedication to Education

August 30, 2022

An endowed scholarship in memory of Jennifer Piker has been created at Indiana State University to honor her dedication to earning a degree during nine years as a part-time student while working full time and graduating from ISU with honors.

The Jennifer J. Piker Endowed Technology Scholarship will benefit part-time students in the ISU College of Technology who are pursuing a bachelor's degree while employed. The first scholarship has been awarded to Christopher Tobar.

The endowed scholarship was established in her memory by her husband, David Piker, and their son, Matthew. The scholarship honors her dedication to education and lifelong commitment to helping others.

Jenny Piker, who passed away last year, began pursuing her degree in computer technology in 1976 while working full time at what was then Eli Lilly's Clinton Laboratories. She graduated from ISU in 1985 earning magna cum laude honors and a Bachelor of Science degree in computer technology.

"It was an incredible achievement for her to stay focused pursuing her degree for nine years while working full time, studying and all the other demands on her time," David Piker said. "She received support from many people and now this scholarship will help students facing the challenges she did. Jenny always found time to be an active volunteer for many organizations. This scholarship continues forever her concern for others.”

During her 36-year career at Eli Lilly, she held management positions in computer systems, manufacturing and health and safety at the Clinton plant. She ended her career in 2007 at Eli Lilly's corporate headquarters in Indianapolis where she worked for eight years in supply chain and logistics administration.

Passionate about education and being a mentor, she advocated for women's professional development at Eli Lilly and for early childhood education in Vermillion County. For nearly 25 years, she served as a member or president of the board of directors of Valley Child Development Center in Clinton. In May, the Center's Board of Directors dedicated its building in her honor.

"She believed in the importance of education and a great deal of her life was spent helping others have access to resources for learning," Matthew Piker said.

Tobar is a senior in the Human Resource Development program in the College of Technology

"I was absolutely humbled when I read about Jenny's life upon receiving this scholarship," Tobar said. "I immediately felt a connection with her story and her compassion for helping other people reach their potential."

Tobar, a Sergeant in the United States Air Force, has been steadily working toward his degree at ISU for the past seven years while working full time in technical and management roles in the Air Force.

He plans to graduate this December with his bachelor's degree in Human Resource Development and use his education to help former service members develop meaningful careers after their military service ends.

Jim Smallwood, Interim Dean of the College of Technology, said the scholarship will motivate students to complete requirements toward a degree. "Jenny was and will continue to be a role model for working students in engineering and technology fields who are pursuing their education while tending to their careers, families and communities," Smallwood said.

The scholarship is a fitting tribute to her compassion and tenacity, said Jeremiah Turner, Associate Vice President for University Advancement. "Jenny touched the lives of so many students of all ages,” he said. “This scholarship will help generations of working students to pursue their goals, as Jenny herself did so boldly."

Students interested in the scholarship should contact the ISU Office of Financial Aid.

Photo of Jennifer J. Piker