Scholarships Help Information Systems Students Cross Over
From Financial Limitations to Prosperous Careers
by Amanda Keys
Sometimes we face gaps between what we have and what we need. We love our computers, until they won’t do what we need them to. Whether the network goes down due to a virus or a database cannot perform a necessary function, technology has its limitations. Likewise, when looking at colleges, some students face a gap between their financial means and the university that is right for them. Fortunately, endowed scholarships in the Information Systems (ISY) department at Hankamer build bridges between the limitations of finance and of technology. Recent ISY graduates and scholarship recipients such as Kevin Riess and Derek Ripley gained skills ranging from protecting networks to developing programs suited to a business’ needs. These capabilities will not only help them to succeed in their careers, but also puts two more professionals in the field who can make the business world a more efficient place.
“Without information systems, business would operate much more inefficiently. As technology grows, systems are able to operate more smoothly,” Ripley noted. “Almost everything in the business world is run through information systems. It’s exciting that as needs change, newer and better systems are being developed, and that helps businesses.”
As technology constantly changes, businesses are in need of ISY graduates to work with the company to determine needs and to stay abreast of the latest innovations that will help accomplish the business’ goals.
“The information systems field involves talking to the organization’s decision-makers and finding what they need to help them make those decisions,” G. W. Willis, ISY professor and former department chair, said. “Then we develop computer-assisted systems that help those decision-makers do their job better, make better informed decisions and help them perform their responsibilities.”
Riess (BBA ’06) is now applying his education to a career at USAA, where he is an analyst/programmer apprentice. He enjoys the opportunity to combine business with his interest in computers and looks forward to learning and moving up in the information systems world. Riess, a Waco native, transferred to Baylor from McLennan Community College after completing his associate’s degree in accounting and credits scholarships for getting him where he is today.
“If it weren’t for scholarships, I might not have been at Baylor or have been able to stay and graduate from Baylor,” Riess said. “I might have been able to with loans, but those loan payments would’ve been tremendous.”
That diminished debt also decreases the stress of moving to a new city to begin his first job. With Riess’ wife, Shauvon, researching universities in San Antonio so she can pursue her degree, every little bit counts.
Riess also appreciates the educational quality Baylor offered, from the Career Services office to helpful faculty.
“What I liked most of all was the size of the classes and the friendliness of the professors, who were there to help you when you needed it. If it wasn’t for all the professors, I may have had a really hard time,” Riess mused. “For the extra services you get at Baylor, it’s really worth your while.”
Ripley (BBA ’06) agrees, as he too is grateful for the education that scholarships helped provide for him. A double major in management and information systems, he is keeping his options open as he investigates job opportunities. Ripley recognizes his technical training in particular may open doors for him.
“Hopefully just having the experience and knowledge of some of the different programming languages, as well as other things I learned in the program, will appeal to my future employers,” Ripley observed. “If I work for a technology company, they will know I’m able to understand the issues that they will be dealing with. Even if I’m not programming or coding, I’ll understand it and I can direct others who are doing those things.”
Again, information systems graduates bridge the gap, this time between the business leaders who need a new program developed and the technical experts who can make the program possible. For Ripley and Riess, one of the scholarships that helped both of them build bridges to reach their education is the John and Richelle Parker Endowed Scholarship Fund, which was designated to assist students in the ISY department. John Parker worked with his business, Spectrum Consulting Group, Inc., to make the initial gift for the scholarship, emphasizing the role of the business world in building associations with the universities that educate the best and brightest future employees.
“Scholarships play a vital role in attracting the highly qualified students that Baylor wants and that we want in the information systems department,” Willis said. “Our vision is to become one of the top information systems departments among our peer institutions, to be recognized both for research and high-quality graduates who are going on to do great work in the field.”
“Scholarships definitely attract people to the department,” Ripley noted. “Many people have trouble paying for their education, and may pay tuition by working full time, so school is put on the backburner. Scholarships make it so much easier to enjoy the college experience and focus on school. I’m thankful for all the scholarships I’ve been given. Big or small, they’ve all helped me enjoy my time at Baylor,” Ripley said.
Mirroring the constantly changing nature of technology, students at Baylor also change, as each year a class graduates and a new one begins. However, the need does not change: for high-quality information systems graduates to take on the business world and make it a better place. Scholarships can provide that bridge between students and their futures.
Baylor Business Review, Fall 2006