The Eric P. Bigler Endowed Scholarship presented to a continuing undergraduate or graduate student who exhibits the characteristics of commitment, leadership, and initiative, works at least part-time to fund his or her education, demonstrates community involvement, and demonstrates the ability to overcome adversities.
Born September 20, 1958, Eric Paul Bigler grew up in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains near Powhatan Point, OH. He spent his early years outdoors: fishing, hunting, and riding dirt bikes. While Eric's father worked full-time at a local company, he also had a 425-acre 'hobby' farm raising beef cattle. This allowed Eric at an early age to learn the meaning of responsibility and hard work.
On a hot summer day in 1974, Eric and several friends were swimming in a creek about 20 miles from home. At frist, Eric refused to join in the fun, knowing that riding his dirt bike home wet was not going to pleasant. But after some persuasion by his friends and the summer heat, he dove in.
On his second dive, Eric hit his head on the creek bottom, immediately losing all feeling from his shoulders down. Hours later, he arrived at Presbyterian University Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA. Doctors there determined that he had fractured two bones in his neck and severely damaged his spinal cord. Eric was paralyzed from the neck down.
After surgery to fuse his neck, he spent five weeks in Pittsburgh and was transferred for another six weeks to Bellaire Hospital, which was closer to his home. In January, 1975, he started rehab in an old, turn of the century rehabilitation facility northeast of Pittsburgh. His days were spent re-learning simple activities, such as feeding himself. He was tutored his sophomore and junior years of high school and attended classes for half a day his senior year, graduating with his class in 1977.
Though eastern Ohio offered many scenic views, the demographic reality was that most jobs were blue collar labor, requiring physical tasks that Eric could no longer accomplish. In order to gain employment, Eric knew he needed a college degree. He knew achieving this goal would be another challenge, and numerous setbacks had left him not fully prepared for university level studies.
Nonetheless, in 1978, Eric began taking classes at Wright State. He graduated with an undergraduate degree in liberal arts in 1983, and three years later finished a Masters degree in Business and Industrial Management.
Eric worked at jobs in both the public and private sectors before starting his current career in 1990 in software testing for Defense contractors near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. In addition to his full-time job, Eric volunteers at the Dayton Art Institute, actively trades stocks and commodities, and is a freelance writer.
Eric has experienced first hand the significant benefit of having a college education and has developed the Eric P. Bigler Endowed Scholarship. The purpose of this scholarship is to help provide funding for students who demonstrate community involvement, drive and commitment, as well as the ability to overcome adversities.
- Gabrielle Markley, 2016
- Tyler Rose, 2015
- Elizabeth Holsopple, 2014
- Amanda Tingley, 2013
- Erin Berdanier, 2012
- Josh Elzey, 2011
- Zachary Spurlock, 2010
- Kayla Fields, 2009
- Christopher M. Buck, 2008