Attending Indiana State University on a football scholarship was an “eye-opening experience” for 18-year-old Chris Pillow. “You realize you are leaving your parents. You are on your own.”
However, the faculty and older football players helped guide the young student on the path he travels today. A talented student-athlete playing wide receiver for the Sycamores, Pillow quickly learned to schedule time for classes and study, as well as time for football practice and games.
“It made you accountable, which is really good especially for young kids,” Pillow said. “After I did what I had to do, I didn’t have very much free time left over.”
His older teammates emphasized to the freshman that it was important to get a good education and have a career — besides football — in mind.
“Everybody who plays football wants to go on to the NFL, but not everyone makes it. And even those who do need to have a back-up plan in case they get injured and their football career is over,” Pillow said. “ISU really gave me a sense of direction.”
Growing up in Indianapolis and graduating from North Central High School, Pillow chose Indiana State University because of its reputation, size and family affiliation. Pillow’s father, George Pillow, ’71, was a basketball player for the Sycamores, and his mother, Diana Cargile, ’70, GR ’71, Ph.D. ’00, was a cheerleader.
“That’s how my parents met,” he said.
After graduating from Indiana State University in 2004 with a degree in marketing, Pillow moved to Chicago, where he is a business performance adviser at Insperity, a company that provides human resources and business solutions to small and medium-sized businesses. He and his wife, Kelly, have a 3-year old son, Christopher Aidin.
Pillow still keeps in touch with alumni and friends he made during his college years. He serves as vice-chair on the ISU African-American Alumni Council and was awarded the Graduate of the Last Decade (Gold) Award by the Alumni Association in 2012. That award is now proudly displayed in his home office.
As for a third generation in the Pillow family attending Indiana State University, Pillow said it is too early to tell.
“My wife went to Michigan State University, and she is always buying our son Michigan State things,” Pillow said.
“My wife will mention Magic Johnson who went to Michigan State, and I will mention Larry Bird who went to ISU,” Pillow added with a chuckle. “So my son will definitely go to college, and I hope it is ISU.”