By Indiana State University
Mar 8, 2021
When the time came for Taylor Schaffer, ’11, to go to college, she wanted to move away from her hometown of Terre Haute.
Her mother had a different idea.
“Taylor was 17 when she graduated from high school and she thought she wanted to go to IU, but I was not going to send my 17-year-old to Bloomington not being a part of a team or group,” said Schaffer’s mother, Tammy Shike, who coaches the dance and cheer teams and works with community service for the athletics department. “I was working part-time at ISU then, and I told her she would come here for a year and could transfer at the end of that year.”
Luckily for Schaffer, mother knows best.
“I think from day one it was a different experience than I thought I would have when I came to ISU. Having grown up in Terre Haute, it felt like I knew what Indiana State was. I didn’t want that, but it is not what I got from my college experience,” Schaffer said. “Instead, I got my own identity outside of my mom and gained unique experiences that were unique to ISU and not exclusively rooted in my hometown.”
That experience for Schaffer meant being a 2011 Indianapolis 500 Festival princess, serving as director of governmental affairs for the Student Government Association, and working as an opinion columnist and editorial writer for the Indiana Statesman student newspaper. Schaffer, who studied communication, also served as chairperson of special events for the ISU Dance Marathon, Sycamore Ambassadors recruitment chair, student representative and Fall Welcome Convocation speaker for New Student Orientation, Sparkette Dance Team officer and co-captain, and student chairperson on the Student Recreation Center steering committee.
Since graduation, Schaffer has worked in public relations and government, including her current appointment, which began Jan. 1, as chief deputy mayor of Indianapolis and chief of staff for Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett.
“My job is to have a global view of city priorities. What that means looks different every day, though,” she said. “In the last year, we’ve spent a lot of time and resources focusing on COVID-19. In normal times, it’s handling initiatives to advance Mayor Hogsett’s broader vision for the city.”
Shike, also an Indiana State alumna, knew that with the right mindset her daughter’s State experience could be everything she’d hoped for her daughter. She is glad she was right.
“I was married when I attended ISU and graduated in three years, so I had a different experience than most college students,” Shike said. “I wanted Taylor to have a true college experience, unlike mine, and she did that on her own. She made great friends and did fun things with them. She established great relationships and loved college life, and it was great for me to see her live the college life I had hoped for her.”
What Shike did not expect from her daughter, though, was an announcement that she would enter the Miss ISU competition her junior year.
“Miss ISU was just not me,” Schaffer said. “When I tell people about it now, it always catches them by surprise.”
Schaffer wasn’t new to the pageant world, though, as she grew up watching her mom’s work with the Miss America organization. Shike still couldn’t believe her daughter wanted to participate. However, when she saw the determination and drive her daughter exhibited, she wasn’t surprised when Taylor won the competition.
“Taylor grew up going to Miss America functions, but it did not seem on brand to me when she told me she wanted to compete in Miss ISU,” Shike said. “I said she wouldn’t do it, but she competed and won her junior year. It’s not the crowning glory of her life, but for me it was an example of her using her intelligence. I quickly understood she would approach it differently than a lot of contestants. It was more of a means to an end for Taylor. She learned a lot and she won the interview portion.
“The experience as a whole was big for me — not just the crown, although it was pretty,” Schaffer’s mom continued. “The intestinal fortitude Taylor showed, and how she worked her tail off to get it, showed me I would not be able to put boundaries on this kid. When Taylor puts her feet to ground, she makes something work. It’s about work ethic for her.”