A bright future: Millikin graduate Jake Shumaker feels prepared to jump into the world of business and DI athletics

Shumaker was the student speaker at the 2024 Spring Commencement morning ceremony.

DECATUR, Ill. – As Millikin University senior Jake Shumaker was preparing for his graduation and thinking about his future, he felt ready for his next challenges. 

The Computer Science major was wrapping up a remarkable four years as a Big Blue student. He became a two-time NCAA Division III Track All-American in the 800 meters, a Scovill Prize winner, and a campus leader in several student organizations and student-run ventures. As he walked out on the stage at Kirkland Fine Arts Center to be the student speaker at the Spring 2024 Commencement morning ceremony, he was reflective of his time as a Millikin student and optimistic about what lies ahead. 

Jake Shumaker
Jake Shumaker speaks at the 2024 Spring Commencement morning ceremony.

“Growing up around Decatur, I had the privilege of being on Millikin’s campus more times than I can count. I have had so many experiences here that have helped me be who I am today,” he said. “Millikin has truly molded me into who I am, and none of this would be possible without my Big Blue family supporting me. In this exciting and sometimes stressful time, graduating can be overwhelming because we are unsure what the future has in store. Instead of being overwhelmed, let’s take a moment to be grateful and appreciative of Millikin and the life experiences that have led to this spectacular and memorable moment in our lives.” 

Jake is ready for those next steps, which include entering the Master of Science in Business Analytics program at the University of Notre Dame in the fall and also serving as a co-founder of Pulse Marketing, a website design and development agency that specializes in developing websites to serve non-profit organizations and mid-sized businesses. 

Jake’s co-founder at Pulse Marketing is Millikin alum Sean Miller, Class of 2023, and their work as Senior Consultants with the Millikin student-run venture Millikin University Performance Consulting (MUPC) gave them experience and knowledge to feel focusing on Pulse Marketing full-time after graduation. 

Jake Shumaker
Jake Shumaker (left) served as a Senior Consultant in MUPC.

“I think MUPC is 100% the reason why Sean and I are doing this. It's pretty much like MUPC but on a professional enterprise scale. MUPC had me practicing those different skills, such as teamwork, leadership, and business development,” Jake said. “Now Sean and I can leverage those skills in this business to offer more services and truly use our expertise across many different fields.”

Jake and Sean met in MUPC, and their friendship grew as they both interned at State Farm Insurance in Bloomington. Sean’s skills as a Finance and Management Information Systems graduate and Jake’s Computer Science degree complement each other in their roles as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chief Product Officer (CPO), respectively. 

Jake Shumaker

“On those drives up the Bloomington together, we would just sit there and talk in the car about life, work, our goals, ambitions, and the future. It began to develop our relationship and friendship. And then we worked closely in MUPC and had a few classes together,” Jake said. “I will lead the website design and development projects while Sean can do more sales and lead generation.”

An essential aspect of Millikin’s approach to Performance Learning is that students receive real-world experience and have real-world stakes in those projects. Those challenges have helped Jake face the reality of running Pulse Marketing. 

“I think it's really exciting to have more stake in it. At MUPC, you have some stress and worry that if I mess this up, this is on me. But now I know this is my investment, and I have ownership,” Jake said. “I think it is also a reason why each day I'm excited to wake up and be excited to do this because I know that I'm building something for the future.”

Jakle Shumaker
Jake Shumer (middle) competes at the NCAA DIII Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

The last part of Jake’s Millikin experience was one final trip to the NCAA DIII Outdoor Track and Field Championships, held in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where he again earned All-American honors with an overall eighth-place finish in the 800 meters finals. It was the second All-American performance in Jake’s career after a fifth-place finish in the Indoor Championships in 2023. 

With one more year of NCAA eligibility available, Jake will join the Fighting Irish’s Track and Field team while in graduate school. 

Jake Shumaker

“I think there is some sadness about the Millikin Track team being such a community that it makes it difficult to come to terms with leaving. My coaches -- Ben Kuxmann and Andrew Craycraft -- have developed such a tight-knit bond among the team. Watching as the underclassmen become leaders and having a group of middle-distance runners I can train with and mesh with every day has been really exciting,” Jake said. “Going from DIII to DI seems a little daunting, but I think I'm starting to see it as almost having that little bit of a chip on my shoulder, knowing that I'm the Division III guy. I'm the guy from the smaller league and a smaller school that's ready to make an impact on the big stage.”

Having grown up in Mount Zion, Ill., Millikin has been there throughout Jake’s life, and his feelings about his Millikin experience can be summed up in one word: gratitude. 

Jake Shumaker

“I think I've felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for those who have been a part of my journey, and a huge part of that is the donors. I had the opportunity to attend a scholarship dinner recently, which was really cool. I had never been in a setting where the person sitting next to me donated to my experience, and provided me with an opportunity to feel less stressed about college tuition. It was super impactful,” Jake said. “I think no matter if I'm living in Decatur when I'm older or wherever I am, I will always have a connection to Millikin, and I’ll want to give back as a donor, show up on campus for Homecoming weekend or alumni track meets. I think that'll always be important to me in the future.”