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.
Ryan Evan MacDonald, a senior from Valparaiso, Indiana, majors in international studies in the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. He has been a Shoemaker Scholar for two semesters.
“I think having an in-person experience this semester is really vital to taking initiative as an entrepreneur. There’s so much our program focuses on, especially when we’re generating ideas that are dependent on interpersonal communication,” MacDonald said. “Regardless of the challenges being on campus might bring, I am excited to be back and help students.”
Crimson Catalyst: What is the biggest impact Shoemaker Scholars have?
Ryan Evan MacDonald: Helping make resources and connections on entrepreneurship available alongside a higher education and not forcing students to choose one or the other.
CC: How did you learn about the Shoemakers Scholars program?
REM: Talking with a friend who turned out to be a Shoemaker Scholar himself.
CC: What do you enjoy most about being a Shoemaker Scholar?
REM: The connections I get to help make for the people this program is designed for. It can be confusing and scary to even think about entrepreneurship, but just talking to other people who can say it’s not that bad — or at least not as bad as you imagined — can do a lot of good. I like taking away some of the stress of pursuing a dream.
CC: What is a common misconception students have about entrepreneurship and innovation?
REM: That there’s some fixed type of people who are entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is for anyone who wants to start their own way of living, whether that’s starting your own art studio, bakery or medical practice — all those people are entrepreneurs. Even more so, if someone hasn’t done what you want to do exactly, or your dream job doesn’t exist, entrepreneurship is how you can make it a reality.
CC: How do you share insights with others, as an ambassador?
REM: Asking lots of questions. A lot of times especially ambitious people, myself included, can get caught up in our own heads. We never ask why, just how. The most important thing that I can do is give people a moment to breathe and reflect and ask why they want to start a business. There are a million and two people who would be more than happy to help them with legal services, accounting, and so on. They should be doing this for themselves, not because they feel some external pressure.
CC: What are your own entrepreneurial endeavors?
REM: Some sort of enterprise is in the works for me, and part of why I joined Shoemaker Scholars was to put it on better footing. So I’ll be able to help people while going through the process with them.
More information about the Shoemaker Scholars program is available at the following websites: