The Shoemaker Scholars program brings together 10 Indiana University Bloomington students from a variety of academic disciplines. They encourage other students to explore their own entrepreneurial and innovative interests, and they oversee the StartupIU website that connects students with university-based startups. John and Donna Shoemaker funded the program, which awards annual scholarships to its members. Travis J. Brown launched and directs the program.
Nicolas Narducci, a sophomore from Bloomington, Indiana, majors in finance and entrepreneurship in the Kelley School of Business. He has been a Shoemaker Scholar for one semester.
“Although I am concerned about the state of campuswide activities due to COVID-19, I know that groups like Shoemaker Scholars will help provide an outlet for creative people to continue their endeavors,” Narducci said.
Crimson Catalyst: What is the biggest impact Shoemaker Scholars?
Nicolas Narducci: Although I have only been a part of the group for one semester, I can already see its impact on campus. Most student organizations and groups are school-centric and exist within their own bubbles of study. The Shoemaker Scholars function as a bridge between these campuses. This is essential to entrepreneurship, because the concept of entrepreneurship knows no bounds. At its core, it is creating something. The idea of creation exists across all fields of study and doctrines, so limiting resources to those enrolled in specific schools is shutting out the majority of students who would benefit the most from them. This is the purpose of the Shoemaker Scholars program, and why the group is essential to fostering entrepreneurship and creation across all areas of study on campus.
CC: How did you learn about the Shoemakers Scholars program?
NN: As a client of the Shoebox with my startup, I and other clients were informed about it by Travis Brown. As I learned about the members and the program, it seemed like an incredible opportunity to work with accomplished and focused individuals as well as make a difference in the university.
CC: What do you enjoy most about being a Shoemaker Scholar?
NN: I enjoy the community the most. Despite not being able to talk face-to-face due to COVID-19, I still feel connected to the other members of the group and know that I have a support system.
CC: What is a common misconception students have about entrepreneurship and innovation?
NN: A common misconception is that you have to be a business student to pursue it. That can’t be further from the truth. In fact, I would say the majority of students in the Shoemaker Innovation Center and the Shoemaker Scholars program are studying for degrees with little or no relation to business at all. Through these groups, I have talked to people pursuing degrees in everything from jazz to creative writing. Entrepreneurship is not limited to business, and I would highly encourage anyone who even has inkling of an idea to reach out and talk with any of the Shoemaker Scholars.
CC: How do you share insights with others, as an ambassador?
NN: I always offer my help and talk to anyone who expresses interest. As an avid supporter of the Shoemaker Innovation Center, I always encourage them to reach out and talk through their idea, or even just get involved in the network.
CC: What are your own entrepreneurial endeavors?
NN: I am currently the co-founder of a financial literacy education startup called fyscal. We are clients of the Shoebox and participate in as many campus and Bloomington events as we can. Outside of my startup work, I have worked as a mentor in my former high school, Bloomington North, for its entrepreneurship class, and I offer my contact info and help to anyone looking to get connected.
More information about the Shoemaker Scholars program is available at the following websites: