Growing up in the Northwest Indiana Catholic school system, Bishop Noll Institute (BNI) alumnus Eric Roldan envisioned himself working in sports – it’s why he earned an undergraduate degree in sports management and marketing. He turned that vision into reality.
“My goal was always to work within sports; to this day, it’s my passion,” he said. “I was fortunate to coach college basketball at IU Northwest and teach physical education at St. Thomas More upon completing my undergrad.”
Eventually, he translated that experience into a job at his alma mater – becoming Bishop Noll’s Athletic Director in 2019. There, he worked with students and staff, helped shape their athletics program, and found himself putting his marketing and business skills (acquired through a master’s program in business administration) to work more than he had before.
“I started to realize how much I was enjoying the marketing and branding side of things as I got further into my career in athletics,” he said. “Somehow, even though I was working in sports, I always found myself working within academics. I was always surrounded by student-athletes, teachers, and administrators and found what I was truly passionate about.”
It was during his tenure at BNI that he first encountered Big Shoulders Fund, an organization with a mission to support schools with a demonstrated need and that provide a quality, values-based education. Now, he serves as Big Shoulders Fund Northwest Indiana’s assistant director of marketing & enrollment.
“My time as athletic director coincided with the launch of Big Shoulders Fund here in Northwest Indiana,” he said. “I heard a lot about their work within the diocese and saw what they were doing to support these schools during my time as AD. Then, three years later in 2022, I noticed they had a position open to expand their team here in Northwest Indiana and felt it was the perfect opportunity.”
Big Shoulders Fund presented both an opportunity to pursue his growing passion for marketing as well as a chance to give back to the institutions that helped him grow.
“Even before Big Shoulders Fund, Catholic schools have been a part of my life since pre-school,” he said. “It molded me into the individual I am today, and I have a lot of love, confidence, and gratitude for the education I received. It’s part of who I am, and I’ve always believed in Catholic education.”
Roldan’s job is a broad one, with half of his duties being to support Big Shoulders Fund Northwest Indiana network schools with their communications.
“A lot of what I do is assisting our network schools with anything from branding, marketing, social media, and recruitment practices to help bring in new students and families,” he said. “Once they have enrolled, we want them to stay and have a successful experience, so those students can become champions of the school in their communities and networks.”
He is also responsible for crafting the messaging of Big Shoulders Fund itself and ensuring the Northwest Indiana residents understand their mission.
“It’s about shaping our voice and brand,” he said. “We want people to know who we are and what we do as an organization here in Northwest Indiana.”
Since he joined the team earlier this year, Roldan has continued to reflect on what the experience has meant to him not just professionally, but personally.
“Having the opportunity to serve these schools has been a blessing,” he said. “For me to be able to give back and help the next generation of students that these schools educate, is amazing. These schools made me who I am today, and I’m grateful to be able to assist in any way possible so they can continue educating and empowering students for many years to come.”
For Roldan, nothing is a greater reward than seeing Big Shoulders Fund’s mission in action.
“My favorite part is seeing the fruits of our labor,” he said. “As an AD, I was interacting with students every day, and in this role, not as much, so the opportunities we have to do events in schools and see the students engaged with their teachers, engaged with their stakeholders, and showing off what they’re able to accomplish is the biggest thing I look forward to. Seeing those smiles, seeing the joy, that’s the best.”
To learn more about Big Shoulders Fund Northwest Indiana, visit bigshouldersfund.org.