A spotlight on our donors and recipients
Every year, dozens of Kelley School of Business Indianapolis students receive scholarships and awards at the annual awards breakfast.
Each scholarship is made possible by those who give selflessly to the Kelley School of Business at IUPUI.
In the upcoming blogs, we will highlight just a few of our donors and recipients, to thank them for the gifts that mean so much to so many.
Jamie Visker, BS’91, MBA’97, attended the Kelley School of Business at IUPUI for both his undergraduate and master of business administration degrees. Atlanta Visker, BA’92, MLS’94, received her undergraduate degree from IUPUI and her masters of library science from Indiana University. The couple met in high school in Danville, and they now reside in Florida. The Viskers continue to support Indiana University through scholarships and by giving of their time to speak to students and prospective students over the years. Jamie is the
CEO and owner of Winona Powder Coating, Inc. Atlanta is a library media specialist in Jupiter, Florida.
Kelley Biz Blog: Tell us about your experience at the Kelley School and IUPUI. Do you have a “Kelley moment,” or a moment where you knew your time here was truly making a difference in your career path and life?
Jamie Visker, BS’91, MBA’97: My experience at the Kelley School for both undergrad and the MBA Program was exceptional. I attended the Indianapolis campus for both programs, and I found the level of dedication by the students was incredible.
With a tremendous percentage of students working while attending school full time, the commitment to obtaining an education and subsequent degree was complete. Leading study groups and helping each other prepare for exams was perfect training for the teamwork required to be successful in business.
When I returned to IUPUI in 1995 to pursue the MBA program, I had no idea what was in store for my career after graduation. By that time, two separate employers of mine had changed commission plans, arbitrarily cutting my income. In both situations the employers felt I was earning too much for my age. It was incredibly disheartening! I knew that getting the Kelley School MBA would likely increase my odds of success in whatever path I took following graduation. I remember thinking at the time I started my MBA, that from that day on – I was much more in control of my future.
Atlanta Visker: My degrees are from the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI and the School of Library and Information Science in Bloomington (Now called the School of Informatics). I also gained so much from my education in both Indianapolis and Bloomington. I am happy to support IU students so they can receive the same experience I did. I received scholarships for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees, without which I could not have attended college.
I have fond memories of pursuing my undergraduate degree at IUPUI. I worked hard as a waitress at Chancellors and the Bistro restaurants at the University Place Conference Center. I usually worked from 6 am-2pm, and then I took classes in the afternoons and evenings. I learned how to manage my time ruthlessly, because along with a full course load, I was in plays and shows at the University Theater.
I had wonderful professors who would meet with me during their office hours and help me with essays or other assignments. I loved the opportunity to learn across disciplines with the liberal arts, and I took a wide variety of classes. I later became a librarian because I loved so many different classes, and I wanted to continue to learn and grow in the arts, sciences and literature throughout my life.
IUPUI’s proximity to downtown Indianapolis also gave me the opportunity to be hired as a co-op at IBM in the Bank One Tower, and I worked in the technical library and learned about the corporate world.
I love reading thank-you notes from the students who receive our scholarship because they are just like me—they work hard, grow in their understanding of the world and want more for their lives. IUPUI students have an enthusiasm for learning and a hunger for opportunity that Jamie and I share.
Kelley Biz Blog: Do you have any advice for current students?
Jamie Visker: My advice for current students is to focus on finding what subjects and areas of study excite them most. Use that same mindset when making a career choice. I have been lucky in most of my career to love waking up every day and going to work. I have also been blessed with being able to control my schedule which has allowed me to spend time with my family and be a part of my children’s lives.
Atlanta Visker: My advice for current students is to take advantage of all the opportunities that IUPUI offers. One of the best classes I took was a mathematics course taught by a teaching assistant from Singapore. (I wish I remembered his name.) Every day immediately after class, he went to the basement of the library and had a study session, where he would help us with the assigned homework. I put that study session into my schedule and never missed that extra help. I would arrange my work schedule to keep that study session, and then, unsurprisingly, got an A in that class. We all knew the material because of the time he spent coaching us.
IUPUI has grown, and now there are even more opportunities on the campus to succeed in college and in life. I love that our scholarship funds travel abroad, because I never had opportunities to travel when I was in school. Traveling opens up the world, and it changes us in a positive way. IUPUI is a community of people that all share a desire to learn and grow, and current students need to jump into the mix of ideas so that they can change their lives.
Kelley Biz Blog: Why did you choose to give back to Kelley, both with your time and monetarily?
Jamie Visker, BS’91, MBA’97: While attending the Kelley School at IUPUI for my undergraduate degree, I had the unique opportunity to work at IBM in the Indianapolis branch. Following graduation with my undergraduate degree in 1991, I decided to work for smaller companies where I felt I could make a bigger difference.
I wanted to expand my options, so I enrolled in the MBA program in January 1995 and graduated in May of 1997. I began my first large entrepreneurial venture in 1998 with humbling results. I recovered and purchased a manufacturing company in Sept 2002, which I still own today. In between, I have started and purchased a number of companies and lived through the economic Armageddon of 2008. I have always felt that my Kelley education helped provide great footing for what entrepreneurship throws at a person.
As an alumnus, I feel great about sharing these experiences with current students to put a real face on what entrepreneurship is. To that end, I have spoken to MBA students in Indianapolis to share a bit about my situation and how I was able to navigate through certain situations. Professor Dan DeHayes had a curriculum dealing with turnaround management, and he asked me to share my experiences navigating difficult situations. I have also spoken with Siri Terjesen’s Honors I-Core classes in Bloomington.
As for the financial support, I felt so positive about my experiences at Kelley in Indianapolis I wanted to support students in that program. My wife Atlanta (an IUPUI grad) and I liked the perpetual nature of the Rise Scholarships, and we were able to fund three of those, along with a 50% match from the IU Foundation. To date, six students have been able to study internationally with the financial support of these scholarships. Both Atlanta and I are thrilled to be able to give that experience to a student who might not be able to study abroad without it.
Receiving thank you letters from the students who have been awarded the scholarships has been a real treat for us. To hear about their situations and what they were able to do with the award is extremely gratifying. The fact that this will continue year after year provides a great recurring feeling of gratitude.
We love the perpetual nature of the gift. Doing something that benefits students for years to come and also allows us to be a part of it, by hearing the stories of the recipients is wonderful. The result for us is the gift gives back to the Visker family.
Atlanta Visker: I feel IU is different from other colleges in the friendly way that Hoosiers relate to one another. When Jamie compares his Kelley experiences to his peer’s educations, he notices an emphasis on win-win solutions to conflicts. His education prepared him to solve conflicts where everyone gets a little bit of what they need, instead of an emphasis on winning at all costs. Of course, having been trained as a teacher and a librarian, I also look solutions that work for everyone. We often worked in groups in the different classes that we attended, and learned people skills that we use every day. Traveling widely and living in South Florida, we really notice the different ways that people relate to one another and feel that our experiences at IU were a great way to start. I am happy to encourage high school students to check out IU, because their education will help all of us when they get out into the world as IU graduates.
I have represented IU as an alumni representative at my son’s high school, the A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, Florida. I believe I was well-prepared for the careers I’ve held because of my education, and I am enthusiastic about students from Florida heading to Indiana for their educations.
Jamie and I both read the thank you notes from the students who have received our scholarships, and we enjoy hearing from them. I would recommend giving a Rise scholarship to other IUPUI alumni because it connects us to the future and connects us to our past.
I think that investing in college scholarships is one of the best, sure-fire ways to make a difference for our future. It’s not just about getting good jobs after we graduate, (although try getting a good one nowadays without a degree.) A college education builds people who can solve challenging problems, communicate clearly and succeed in a constantly changing world.
By investing in future IU students, Jamie and I play a part in creating a more thoughtful, adaptive and meaningful future. We believe that our experiences at IU prepared us for a life as entrepreneurs by giving us the people skills and knowledge of how the world works to adapt, survive and thrive in a rapidly changing world.