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Q&A: Ben Higgins, IU alumnus and star of ABC’s ‘The Bachelor,’ comes home for a good cause

Apr. 14, 2016

If you watched this season of ABC’s reality TV show “The Bachelor,” you likely saw scenes of picturesque Indiana landscapes and famous Hoosier landmarks. That's because the star of the show, Ben Higgins, is a true Hoosier and graduate of Indiana University.

This week, he comes home to serve as the grand marshal for IU’s 2016 Little 500 race.

Ben Higgins

Ben Higgins returns to his alma mater as the 2016 Little 500 grand marshal. | PHOTO COURTESY OF ABC

Higgins, born and raised in Warsaw, Ind., graduated from IU in 2012. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in public affairs with a management major from the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He now works as an account manager for Talisys, a financial services software firm based in Golden, Colo. 

Besides his ties to the university, Higgins relates to the deeper mission behind the annual Little 500: its dedication to philanthropy. The Little 500 raises money for scholarships for working IU students, and Higgins has a personal passion for giving back to others. He is an advocate for MudLOVE, a jewelry company in his hometown that supports clean water projects in Africa. Higgins, partnering with MudLOVE and local nonprofit Humanity and Hope United Foundation, set up the "Get Hope. Give Hope." campaign. The campaign’s mission is to raise funds for job creation in Honduran villages. His Instagram bio reads, “Be kind, for everyone you know is fighting a hard battle and every second we are creating our story.”

Inside IU caught up with Higgins as he prepares to return to his Indiana roots and chatted about his time at IU, his love for giving back and, of course, his now-fiancée Lauren Bushnell, who will be making the trip with him. 

Q: What does it mean to you to be asked back to IU for such a historical event like the Little 500, and what has you most excited? 

A: This sounds so cliche, but it’s really humbling and such an honor to come back to the place where I had so many great memories. There’s so much tradition and character associated with the Little 500. It really encompasses what IU is all about. It showcases the tremendous athletic ability on campus, and it happens at the end of the school year when people are celebrating academic successes as well.

Q: The Little 500’s purpose is to raise money for student scholarships, and you yourself are involved in many philanthropic endeavors. Why do you have such a passion for philanthropy? 

A: No matter what your platform is, philanthropy is all about benefiting others and giving back. There are two main reasons why I have such a passion for philanthropy. The first is that I believe it’s the best way to find direction in life. Also, because of my faith. There’s no better way to spend your time than giving back to others and pointing them in the right direction.

Q: What has you most excited about your return to Bloomington, and which campus spots do you plan to show Lauren? 

A: This is a great opportunity for Lauren and I to experience the campus together. She has never seen IU or Bloomington before, and I am so excited for her to finally see the place where I made some of my best memories. I want to show her all over the beautiful campus, especially the Arboretum and the area around Wells Library. The pond area was always my favorite spot on campus to sit and do homework outside on a nice day. You know, I’m also excited to take her to the Rose Well House gazebo!

Q: Have you heard about the legend associated with that gazebo? Many IU students kiss their sweethearts there at the stroke of midnight.

A: Well, we might have to do that then!

Q: You mentioned making great memories at IU. Do any of those still stick out to you today?

A: Some of my best friends were lucky and talented enough to play basketball at IU, and I will never forget the atmosphere on game day. I remember walking to Assembly Hall from my house off campus, and other IU students and fans would be on their way there as well, and we would all join in to make a huge crowd. All of us, young and old, would be cheering and be so excited for the game. It is such a unique environment.

Q: As a native Hoosier, what do you love most about Indiana?

A: That’s easy: It’s the people. Indiana is where you will find some of the best types of people. They word hard, live well and truly care about each other.

Q: How do you believe your time at IU and the education you received helped you in your success so far?

A: Very little of what I learned at IU helped me to become the Bachelor, but it did prepare me for life. Right after graduation, I began working for a really well-respected company and still do work for them. I think the producers saw that I went to IU, so they knew I had my life together. 

I really do think so highly of IU, and I can’t wait for Lauren to experience it, too. It’s a special thing to think that I’ve been graduated for four years now, but I still feel like I’m coming home. We are going to have a great time, Hoosiers! 

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