If you had asked the professors of CICS about Eric Talley before March of 2021 they would have smiled and told how amazing he was to become a police officer at 40; walking away from a successful career in IT. But, they wouldnt have stopped with their current admiration of Eric. Dr. Frank Groom would have started to tell you about Eric’s dedication to his faith as well as how he juggled his family and work committments to complete his masters degree in CICS but also taught karate classes to many of the youth in the area to help keep them busy and teach them discipline. He didn’t necessarily have the time for that, but he had the heart.
Dr. Steve Jones would smile and tell you that Eric was a non-traditional who epitomized what the Center believes: hard work, persistence, and service drives the successful CICS graduate. Working full-time, father to his growing family, and participating in the most rigorous 11-month graduate program on campus, Eric made it happen. Not many have done what he accomplished. He would also humbly tell you that one of the Talley children is named after him. Then he would tell you that Eric quit a very successful and lucrative career in technology to serve as a police officer, something not many people at that level of corporate success would do. But, that was, as Dr. Jones would tell you, Eric.
Eric Talley sacrificed his life in the King Sooper’s mass shooting in March of 2021 by jumping in front of a gunman’s bullets to protect others. Eric leaves behind his wife and seven children, as well as his parents, still in our local community. His parents attended an event for us earlier in the year when we inducted Eric Talley into the CICS Alumni Hall of Fame.
In a story about his public funeral, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis recalled Talley’s sacrifices, large and small. He was quoted as saying “Officer Talley gave his life just as he lived it: in the service of others,” the governor said. “Although it will be painful, it’s also a joy to remember Officer Talley for who he was. It’s a sign of a life well lived when you’re beloved like Officer Talley.”
President Joe Biden offered his condolences to the families of the victims of the Boulder shooting, and singled out Talley’s heroism the week of his funeral. “I commend the exceptional bravery of Officer Eric Talley,” he said. “I send my deepest condolences to his family. His close, close family of seven children. You know, when he pinned on that badge yesterday morning he didn’t know what the day would bring. I want everybody to think about this.” The President added, “But when the moment to act came, Officer Talley did not hesitate in his duty, making the ultimate sacrifice in his effort to save lives. That’s the definition of an American hero.”
We in CICS do think about service, we mourn Officer Talley and though we have always encouraged our students to serve in the community, we wanted to formalize that in Eric’s honor. This year began the annual Eric Talley Award for Community Service. The first recipient of the award is Eloka Agwuegbo.
Eloka has left his home country of Nigeria and spent time in Canada before moving to Indiana to complete his degree in CICS. Due to his life experience, service to others is important and part of who he is overall. When the pandemic hit Eloka was already participating in our local Meals on Wheels program by delivering meals. He did not stop but stepped up his efforts to make sure that those in need had food and even just saw a friendly face, if only from a distance.
By participating in various opportunities in CICS, Eloka was able to help bring technical vocational training to people in Muncie who, due to various challenges, were unable to travel outside of the area to receive the necessary training to up-skill into new roles. Eloka has an incredible work ethic and attacks tasks with a high sense of urgency, but he is at his best when he is working in the service of others.
It was truly an honor to have Eloka Agwuegbo receive the inaugural Eric Talley Award for Community Service in a year that was heart breaking for those who knew Eric but also a difficult year to work in the community, but those with the heart find a way. Thank you, Eloka, for your important and inspiring work in the community. You make us proud.