Ball State Graduate School Blog

Where will graduate school take you?


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Meet Mia, whose immersive learning experience took her to Italy!

Welcome to the Ball State Graduate School blog! We hope you’re ready to hear some inspiring stories about the incredible experiences our graduate students have had during their time here. Today we’re sharing Mia Dietrich’s story.

Photo credit: Mia Dietrich

First, a little background on Mia. She attended Ball State to earn an undergraduate degree in Graphic Arts Management. Now, she’s earning a Master of Arts degree in Digital Storytelling from Ball State’s telecommunications department. Mia hails from Pendleton, Indiana, and she’s in the final year of her graduate studies. She had the opportunity to spend five weeks in Italy over the summer as part of her program’s cultural immersion requirement. Here’s what she shared with us about her experience:

On traveling to Italy:

“For my degree, I was required to do either a cultural or business immersion. I chose to go to Italy for five weeks with part of the telecommunications department. The undergrads were working on a documentary, which was a skill all of us studied while we were there. But I focused more on researching storytelling of Italian culture, mostly through Renaissance art. I soaked up Italian musicals, card games, television, movies, comic books, paintings, sculptures, architecture, and landscapes. Each of these told its own form of storytelling that was rich with culture. As someone who focuses on how environments affect narrative, the scenery was constantly inspiring.”

Photo Credit: Mia Dietrich

Macerata, Italy. Photo credit: Mia Dietrich

Her favorite spot in Italy: 

“My favorite city to explore was Florence. It felt friendlier than Rome, while still radiating a lush amount of history with each step and building. Seeing Michelangelo’s David was one of the most jaw-dropping experiences of my trip, and also my life. The inspiration still hits me months later.”

Michelangelo’s ‘David’. Photo credit: Mia Dietrich

‘Hercules’. Photo credit: Mia Dietrich

On choosing Ball State:

“I had heard amazing things about the telecommunications department. I wanted to work with devoted faculty to help me move my passions forward, and Digital Storytelling was broad enough to include those passions. Through this program, I am given the freedom to conceptualize a full-scale video game that I can one day pitch to developers. All of my academic reading and class projects are centered on telling stories through virtual environments and expanding my concepts.”

On how graduate school has changed her life: 

“My entire experience after just my first year in graduate school has drastically changed the course of my life. Originally, I was going to stay in the Indianapolis area to find any job that I could with graphic design. Now I have the skills, experience, references, and portfolio to go anywhere I would like with the assurance of getting my career rolling. The autonomy and uncertainty are both exhilarating. I can finally begin an adventurous career, where as before grad school, I thought the idea was too much of a risk to pursue. Now I am excited to get started!”

Her advice to incoming students: 

“Where undergrad might be full of meaningless obstacles, graduate school opens every door. Don’t expect to be told what to do all of the time. You need to have a sense of independence, and you should be excited to have a chance to utilize that in an educational manner. Software, hardware, mentors—they’re all accessible for your own passions. Take advantage of them while you can, and manage your time well!”

Thanks so much for sharing with us, Mia!

If you’d like to learn more about Ball State University’s Master of Arts in Digital Storytelling, visit the department’s website or contact program director Rob Brookey. And, if you’d like to know more about what Mia did during her time in Italy, visit her blog