Ball State Graduate School Blog

Where will graduate school take you?

Meet Anh, an international student in Public Relations

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Anh Kieu, originally from Vietnam, came to Ball State to study Public Relations. During her time here, she’s had the opportunity to hold a number of positions with an exciting variety of organizations, including Afghanistan Journalism Education Enhancement Program, Ball State’s Study Abroad Programs, and the Muncie Symphony Orchestra. She shared a little with us about her experience as an international student at Ball State’s Graduate School.


Photo courtesy of Anh Kieu

On how she found Ball State University: 

“I learned about Ball State by accident–I call it my serendipity. I was preparing for my application to graduate school when my friend told me about a commencement speech on YouTube that she loved. The speaker was Angela Ahrendts, former CEO of Burberry and now an executive at Apple. Her speech was so inspiring and completely resonated with me. Out of curiosity, I did some research about Ahrendts’ school and found the Ball State University website. I was looking for a Public Relations program, and Ball State offers the most distinguished PR program in the nation. Seven months later, I landed in Indianapolis Airport and started my journey as a graduate student at Ball State University.”

My team at Cardinal Communications

Cardinal Communications team. Photo courtesy of Anh Kieu.

On how Ball State has transformed her life:

“The people I’ve meet, the friends I’ve made, and the projects I’ve worked on have changed my life forever, and for the better. Over the past two years, I have learned so much about myself and the world around me. I have realized my strengths and weaknesses. I have learned how to adapt to a completely new environment and culture. Every day is a new experience for me and I treasure each and every moment.”

On the real-world experiences she gained as a student: 

“Before arriving at Ball State, I had my bachelors degree in English with an emphasis on translation and interpretation from Vietnam– so I didn’t have any real life experience in Public Relations. Luckily, the Journalism Department faculty members always try their best to provide students with real world experiences. I was able to work at Cardinal Communications, a student-run PR agency that works with real clients in Indiana. It was a great place to learn and practice the things I was studying in class.”

On her internship with Muncie Symphony Orchestra: 

“I wanted more Public Relations experience outside of the classroom, so I decided to look for an internship. A friend introduced me to Muncie Symphony Orchestra, which is located right on campus. I contacted the director and asked for an internship opportunity. I was so happy when she offered me the job! I got to help the orchestra with event planning and writing press releases. One of my press releases was picked up by the Star Press, a local newspaper of Muncie.  Later on, the organization also became the main subject of my thesis for graduation.”


Photo courtesy of Anh Kieu.

On her search for a Graduate Assistantship position:

“I didn’t have a graduate assistantship during my first semester at Ball State, which led me to pay out of state tuition fees. It was a difficult time for me. I worked at the Atrium Food Court on campus during the day and went to classes at night. I knew in advance that if I could not find a GA position, I might not be able to continue my education. In December, 2013, my advisor informed me about an available position, which I applied for. When I got the job, it was one of the best days of my life! I worked on the Afghanistan Journalism Education Enhancement Program (AJEEP) project. I walked out of that assistantship with amazing experiences and a great mentor.

That assistantship only lasted for the Spring and Summer semesters, so I had to find new one for the second year of my program. The experience I gained from my first position helped pave the way for my second position, Event Coordinator at the Study Abroad Programs. My main responsibility there was to coordinate the Study Abroad Fair and a Photo Contest, two of our biggest annual events. I also presented about the possibilities of studying abroad at Ball State University for incoming freshmen during orientation.  The job is perfect for a Public Relations major like me. I get to learn so much everyday, and I am also very thankful to have the opportunity to work with my amazing colleagues.”


Photo courtesy of Anh Kieu

Her advice for incoming students: 

“One of the many things I have learned is that Ball State has a lot to offer, but it is entirely up to you to choose whether or not to explore these hidden gems. Be prepared to go out of your comfort zone and ask a lot of questions. People are always willing to help you, but you have to let them know you need help. Another thing I have learned is to stay open minded–or as Steve Jobs better puts it, ‘Stay hungry, stay foolish.’ School is a great the time for learning and  experimentation, and I would advise incoming to students to make the most out of it.”

Thank you for sharing with us, Anh! 

If you’d like to learn more about Ball State University’s PRSA-accredited Masters program in Public Relations, visit the department’s website or contact the graduate program director, Deborah Davis.


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