Triton Central’s salutatorian will attend Butler University because that’s where his parents met, where his grandparents went, and where his great-grandfather died.
“I’m like the fourth generation to be involved with something at Butler,” Jonathan Riggins said.
Riggins’ great-grandfather was an equipment manager who worked at Butler under Tony Hinkle, the legendary basketball coach that Butler’s basketball fieldhouse is named after.
“In the blizzard of ‘78, he got trapped in the fieldhouse for three days or so,” Riggins said. “He raided the vending machines just looking for food. He also rode around the top ring inside Hinkle (Fieldhouse) – because he wanted practice to end, so he rode around on his unicycle with a sombrero on, yelling at coach Hinkle during practice. So he was quite the interesting person.”
Riggins’ great-grandfather passed away in 1980 from a heart attack he suffered at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Riggins’ grandparents also attended Butler, and his grandma went back to work for Butler after she graduated as an administrative assistant for the vice president of Human Resources. She worked there for 24 years.
But that’s not all. Both of Riggins’ parents attended Butler, where they met in French class.
Because of all this “family history,” he was at Butler often as a child, he said.
“It already felt like home, honestly,” he said. “So that really heavily influenced my decision to be there.”
Riggins will participate in a dual major program that allows him to graduate in six years with a doctoral degree in pharmacy and a master’s degree in business administration. He wants to go into the industry side of pharmacy and make medications to help people, he said.
He chose pharmacy because he likes the science behind it.
“Researching, and finding out how different drugs work, and their effectiveness against different diseases and illnesses that individuals may have – it greatly interests me,” he said. “I’ve always liked to see how things work, and I like helping people, and so being able to not only understand how to take different elements within this world or within these plants and combine them together to form these drugs that can help combat human sickness, and combat illnesses and imperfections that people may have, It’s fascinating to me how we’re able to do that.”
He decided to pursue business as well because he felt it would compliment the pharmacy degree and make him look better to employers.
“I want to go on the industrial side of pharmacy, and that’s like looking at pharmaceutical companies like Eli Lilly, and so I think having both the business degree and the pharmacy degree allows for greater versatility,” he said. “And it’s another aspect of the resume that stands out.”
Riggins said his calculus teacher, Jeff Wilson, helped him understand the rigor it would take to pursue a career as challenging as pharmacy.
Riggins even honored Wilson in an essay, saying Wilson helped him both in-class with mathematics and outside of class through leading the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which Riggins participated in.
“I just talked about how he helped me both during class, and that was with calculus and pre-calc, and he’s just an amazing teacher,” he said. “His energy and his motivation, and everything about him makes you want to succeed.”
Riggins wrote this essay because he was one of 40 students all over the state to be named an Indiana Academic All-Star. He attended a luncheon at the Indiana Roof Ballroom in downtown Indianapolis.
The Indiana Academic All-Star program is held by the Indiana Association of School Principals every year to honor students academically “in the same manner that student-athletes traditionally are honored,” according to a press release.
“They had a slideshow displaying both the regional and state academic all stars,” he said. “It was a really nice luncheon. It was really cool to see the wide variety of people out there, and all the other very successful individuals throughout the state.”