Krista Bicer doesn’t just want to sell. She wants to sell something she’s passionate about.

To get there, she knew she needed to attend one of the top professional sales programs in the country—even if that meant leaving her home state of Kentucky.

Today, Bicer is thriving as a junior sales major at Illinois State University, where she’s built a second home as a student leader and academic all-star. Thanks to the in-state tuition offered to students from neighboring states like Kentucky, as well as scholarships, Bicer’s choice became a no-brainer.

“ISU was worth it to me,” said Bicer.

Bicer graduated from Larry Ryle High School in her hometown of Union in northern Kentucky, just south of Cincinnati. The high school Math Honors Society student is passionate about working with people and with numbers, which led to her interest in sales. Her dream job: sales rep for Estee Lauder.

She’s been impressed by the College of Business and its professors. She works one-on-one with the director of the Professional Sales Institute through her leadership position with the Pi Sigma Epsilon business fraternity. She’s also a Business Week mentee, putting her right in the thick of ISU’s annual networking event.

“I love the professors. They really care about their students,” she said.

Bicer was named a Caterpillar Scholar (one of her college’s top honors) and earned the Enterprise freshman sales scholarship and Redbird Academic Scholarship, among other honors. She believes extending her college search outside of her home state provided her opportunities she wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Making new friends

Bicer’s biggest concern about attending Illinois State was making friends. After all, she didn’t know anyone on campus when she arrived, and her family and friends were over four hours away in Kentucky.

But she quickly made friends because she lived in one of Illinois State’s 21 Themed Living-Learning Communities in the residence halls. Bicer lived on the floor specifically for Honors Program students. And Bicer actually met her best friend—and future off-campus apartment roommate—completely by accident one night, after bumping into her on the way to a faith-based student group meeting.

And since college is about trying new things, she even gave Redbird Athletics a try. Although she hated watching sports in high school, she got hooked on attending basketball games at Redbird Arena.

Now she attends every game as part of the Red Alert student section.

“The campus is very close-knit,” Bicer said. “It’s easy to meet all kinds of different people.”

Ryan Denham can be reached at