Piper Watkins

Piper Watkins

Public Relations and
Digital Communication and Media Major

Piper Watkins is a busy Sycamore. Considering her involvement in Indiana State University’s Honors College, the Spirit Squad cheerleading team, Student Media, Sycamore Video, WZIS, and philanthropic work, it didn’t seem possible that she could add another commitment to her full schedule. However, when she was asked to compete in Indiana State’s Miss ISU pageant, Watkins agreed — having no idea she would win!

In June, the junior public relations and digital communication and media student from Plainfield, Indiana represented Indiana State at the Miss Indiana pageant in Zionsville. Watkins expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to represent her Sycamore community but also to support a greater cause.

First, what led to your decision to attend Indiana State? How did you know Indiana State was the right school for you? 

As a first-generation college student, I didn’t really know how to decide what college to attend. I ended up choosing Indiana State because I received a President’s Scholarship and I could be a member of the Honors College. I also really liked the campus size. The faculty I met made me feel welcome immediately, which helped me know I was at the right place.

What are you most passionate about? 

This relates to my platform for Miss ISU, but I had a community service initiative called Amplifying Little Voices: The Importance of Being Heard. I worked with an organization called Kids’ Voices of Indiana to help fundraise for the Guardian ad Litem (GAL)/Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) representatives to represent children in family court cases. Without a representative, children have no voice in the court system and no say in their own futures. Many times, the mental and physical effects of adverse childhood experiences are overlooked. I want to make sure we prioritize the mental health and safety of children in need. Their past experiences do not define them and their voices deserve to be heard.

You had the honor of being Miss ISU for the 2023-24 academic year. Why were you interested in the Miss ISU pageant?

Originally, I wasn’t sure if the Miss ISU pageant was something I wanted to do. Funny enough, my mom had me sign up my freshman year. I had no idea what it actually entailed. Though, I learned that this organization is first a scholarship program but also an organization that supports women, promotes confidence and individuality, and is huge on community service.

Miss ISU also allows women to share what they love with others. There’s a talent portion in the pageant where women can sing, dance, play the drums, paint, play the piano, perform American Sign Language, give a speech or monologue — you name it! For me, I had the opportunity to sing the song “Watch What Happens” from the musical Newsies. 

What does the title “Miss ISU” mean to you? What did it mean to you to represent Indiana State at the Miss Indiana pageant? 

The title of “Miss ISU” means the world to me. I wanted to be able to showcase the best parts and core values of Indiana State at the Miss Indiana pageant. Being chosen for this role has inspired me to take what I do to the next level. Specifically, I love being able to share what Miss ISU has allowed me to do. I never thought I could support a cause on my own until this pageant. Now, I’m working closely with an organization to help kids in court win their voices back — something I wish I had done sooner. I hope I made Indiana State proud this year!

What do you enjoy about the public relations and digital communication and media academic programs? 

I enjoy so much! I switched my major in my freshman year because I loved student media and the creative outlet communication provides. With my academic programs, I’m able to specify which areas I’d like to focus my studies on to cater to my personal career goals.

You mentioned our faculty made you feel welcome at Indiana State. How have your professors mentored you? 

My professors have been amazing! I work with some of them in Sycamore Video. Others, I have asked for professional advice, personal advice (like adjusting to college or dealing with imposter syndrome), writing letters of recommendation, cultural awareness, and so much more.

What have been some of your favorite classes so far? 

My favorite communication course was Persuasion Theories with Dr. Natasha Rascon. She was an amazing and engaging professor who encouraged her students to be passionate about social issues. The problem-solving skills we learned directly impact how we handle our daily lives.

I also enjoyed Professor Marilyn Bisch’s Eternal Cities class that was connected to a 10-day trip to Italy. We had the opportunity to research topics of our interests all semester and then visit those sites in person. She taught us how to be passionate about something larger than ourselves that is rich in history. Gaining cultural awareness and making new friends through the class was a unique experience I’ll never forget!

What are your future career goals? 

My main goal for the future is to make a positive impact. Whether I become a digital media strategist, social media manager, or a public relations manager, I will always be aware that information can become misconstrued or have a negative focus in the media. I want to use my education to spread positivity and truth, motivate others, and inspire people to believe in themselves.

Piper Watkins, a female student with tanned skin and long brown hair, sits in a media lab. She wears a teal shirt. A computer monitor is on a table in front of her. Two students are visible behind her.

Why were you interested in the Honors College? 

I always knew I wanted to be in the Honors College. I am very academically driven and I wanted to be involved in an academic program that would challenge my mind, make me grow as an individual, and surround me with other students with similar goals. The unique course structure and the private bathrooms in the Honors College residence halls are also a plus!

How has the Honors College benefitted your college experience? 

The Honors College has allowed a lot of flexibility within my schedule. I have been able to add a double major, add a minor (in sports communication), and I plan to study abroad this upcoming fall semester. The Honors College courses have many fun and interesting topics to choose from. Some classes even have small trips abroad!

You mentioned the Honors College allows a lot of flexibility with your schedule. You’re a busy student. For example, you’re involved in Sycamore Video. What is your involvement? What do you enjoy about the student media group? 

At Sycamore Video, my official title was a content producer. I helped create and produce fun video content. Many times, I also acted as an on-air host for our talk show, Almost Live, and an anchor for our campus news, TWAISU. Something I enjoy about Sycamore Video is that it provides students a creative outlet where they can work together to make their ideas come to life. If they have an idea, we all work together to make it happen. I am forever grateful for the friendships I have made in the organization!

A collage of Piper Watkins, a female student with tanned skin and long brown hair, in a media lab. She wears a teal shirt. In the top left photo, she wears a black communication headset and poses next to a teleprompter and camera. In the top right photo, she poses in front of an audio board. In the bottom photo, she is looking into a camera and teleprompter while wearing a black communication headset.

Overall, how would you say Indiana State is preparing you for your future career? 

Without Indiana State, I never would have had any of these personal and professional experiences that have shaped me into the person I am today. Other than the education I’m receiving, I’ve had the opportunity to work with professionals, speak on panels, use my creativity, gain confidence, make friends, and find a deeper meaning in what I do.

Lastly, if you were talking to a prospective student about Indiana State (the academics, the Honors College, campus life, etc.), what would you tell them? 

I would tell them to trust their gut. If something is pulling them to go here, they won’t regret it. You just have to put yourself out there and get involved. If there is something you’re passionate about, lean into it and the people at Indiana State will help you get to where you want to be. Indiana State has brought me opportunities that I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else. I will never forget my time as a Sycamore and I am so thankful for everything.

Piper Watkins, a female student with tanned skin and long brown hair, poses in front of a table in a media room. She wears a teal shirt. A plant is visible behind her. To the left of the table are photos of Indiana State's campus.