Ball State Graduate School Blog

Where will graduate school take you?


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Meet Elisabeth, a PhD candidate researching social media and digital literacy

We are thrilled to introduce you to Elisabeth Buck, a PhD candidate in Ball State’s English, Rhetoric, and Composition program. Originally from Reno, Nevada, Elisabeth moved across the country to earn her degree. She is currently working on her dissertation, “Archives, Access, and Authorial Agency: The Visibility of Digital Inquiry in Writing Center Scholarship.” She spent some time talking with us about why she chose Ball State and what she has learned about herself in graduate school.

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Photo courtesy of Ball State Photo Services

On how Graduate School has transformed her:

“I know that it’s a huge cliché to say that graduate education ‘changes’ you, but I am certainly a different person now than when I moved here: I’ve grown in confidence as a student, teacher, mentor, and scholar. Ball State was truly the right place to pursue my doctoral education, and I’m so glad that I made the decision to come here three years ago!”

On why she chose Ball State:

“From the beginning, Ball State’s program in rhetoric and composition stood out to me: I appreciated the competitive assistantships, the opportunity to work closely with an award-winning writing program, and the potential to take classes with well-known and respected faculty in the discipline. My advisors at the university where I completed my master’s degree thought very highly of Ball State as well. So, even though the prospect of moving across the country to attend a PhD program was daunting at first, it became very clear that Ball State offered the most comprehensive benefits for my doctoral education.”

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Photo courtesy of Ball State Photo Services

On the faculty support she’s received at Ball State:

“I have been incredibly fortunate in that I’ve experienced a very high level of support throughout my graduate career, but that has been especially true here at Ball State. Dr. Jennifer Grouling, the first faculty member that I was introduced to at Ball State—who was assigned to be my mentor during my first semester as a teaching assistant—ultimately became my dissertation chair. She has been so supportive as both a teacher and a mentor. I’ve also had great experiences assisting two fantastic writing program administrators, Dr. Jackie Grutsch McKinney and Dr. Mike Donnelly. I think it’s perhaps rare for a student to say that they’ve emerged from their graduate education with nothing but positive things to say about their mentors, but, for me, it’s true—everyone I’ve encountered here has been incredibly helpful and supportive.”

On what she’s been surprised to learn about herself during her time here:

“I think that all graduate students, to some extent, struggle with confidence and the difficult process of figuring out how and where your voice ‘fits’ within the larger academic conversation. I never thought that I would have the opportunity to publish academic articles as a grad student, but my professors at Ball State have helped me determine how I can contribute to academic discourses. My coursework even facilitated the opportunity to develop one of my seminar papers into a webtext (an article intended for distribution on the Internet), which has now been accepted for publication. I’m surprised not just that I had the opportunity to do this, but that I would, in this process, learn about web design and HTML coding—these were two terms that were definitely not in my lexicon before I arrived at Ball State!”

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Photo courtesy of Ball State Photo Services

On the opportunities the Ball State community offers its students:

“Every program at the university is different, but, in my experiences, Ball State offers many opportunities for graduate students to excel. For instance, I have been able to serve as a graduate representative on a university committee, and the ASPIRE program is a great resource to support travel to conferences and research. Admittedly, though, I was a bit hesitant about moving to Muncie, especially after living in Los Angeles for several years. But there are so many events sponsored by Ball State that offer grad students an opportunity to spend some time away from the classroom. My friends and I had a wonderful time at the Amazing Taste event in the fall, and I love the fact that students can get free tickets to the touring theatrical productions at Emens Auditorium. I’m a huge fan of musicals!”

On how well her graduate education has prepared her for a future career:

“I have been presented with some unique and highly beneficial opportunities at Ball State. I do not think grad students often have the chance to mentor and work closely with other graduate students, but, this semester, I have been able to do this as the teaching assistant for a graduate-level English course. Due to my teaching and administrative assistantships, as well as the capacity to develop seminar papers into publications and several conference presentations, I believe that Ball State has helped me take important steps to prepare for a tenure-track position.”

Thank you for sharing with us, Elisabeth! If you’d like to learn more about Elisabeth’s research, visit her website

If you want to know more about Ball State’s graduate programs in English, register now for an on-campus information session on Saturday, October 17, 2015. You can also check out the English department’s website or contact Deborah Mix, the graduate program director, for more information. 


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Meet Dea, an educator and leader in the Muncie community

We’re excited to introduce you to Dea L. Moore-Young, who is working to complete her Doctorate of Education at Ball State. Dea, who is originally from Muncie, is an active leader in the educational community and serves as the Principal at Grissom Elementary School. She spent some time sharing with us about her graduate experience and shared some advice for incoming graduate students.

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Photo Courtesy of Ball State University Photo Services

On why she chose Ball State: 

“I previously received my Bachelors of Science, Masters of Art Education, and Ed.S. (School Superintendency) from Ball State.  Ball State is known across this country and abroad for its Teacher’s College and educational leadership programs.  I grew up in Muncie and work for Muncie Community Schools, so Ball State’s excellent educational programs are also conveniently accessible.”

On what she has gained from her time at Ball State Graduate School: 

“My favorite aspect of my graduate school experience was the “Ah-Ahh!” moment of a learning breakthrough and moving into a higher intellectual level. Ball State has given me valuable educational tools, fostered my collegial networking, and has provided valuable experiences which are preparing me for my career.”

Dea Young Graduate School

Photo Courtesy of Ball State University Photo Services

On how Ball State Graduate School has transformed her life: 

“Ball State graduate school has transformed me to be better at multi-tasking without sacrificing the quality of my work.  I reflect back on the coursework I completed while being elementary school principal,a single mom, a caregiver for an ill parent, on top of maintaining all the other responsibilities I was already committed to when I went back to school for my Ed.S and Ed.D. I have grown personally and professional from wonderful professors in the educational leadership department.”

On what makes Ball State a great place to earn a graduate degree:

“I would choose Ball State again because of my awesome and valuable experiences. The academic and social experiences that accompanied my great education from Ball State have been a blessing.  Ball State has extremely knowledgeable professors who have gone above and beyond to support me and prepare me educationally.”

Her advice for incoming graduate students: 

“Have an open mind for learning and to glean information and resources from Ball State’s intelligent and supportive professors. Be prepared to give it your all to earn your degree, work hard by doing your personal best and then work even harder, and enjoy the experience while having fun!”

Dea Young Graduate School

Photo Courtesy of Ball State University Photo Services

 Thank you for sharing with us, Dea! If you’d like to learn more about Ball State’s graduate programs in Education, check out their website


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Resources for New Graduate Assistants

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Photo Courtesy of Ball State University Photo Services

Congratulations on your new graduate assistantship position! We are excited to help you transition to your new role in just a few weeks when the semester begins. Before the fall semester arrives, we’d like to offer you some resources for being successful as a graduate assistant.

You can download a copy of our Tips for Being Successful as a Graduate Assistant. This will cover basic information and provide you with suggestions for making the most of your time at Ball State.

If you weren’t able to join us for the live G.A. Webinar on July 14, you can watch a recording of the event here.

You can also learn more about what it’s like to be a G.A. at Ball State by reading our Day in the Life of a GA series.

If you have any lingering questions after checking out these resources, you can always contact the Graduate School at graddev@bsu.edu.

Don’t forget to register for on-campus orientation on Thursday, August 20 for a chance to network with other students, learn more about campus, hear from our keynote speaker, and socialize during our mixer at The Caffeinery! 


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Summer Graduation Guide

Congratulations to our Summer 2015 graduates!

Graduation is this Saturday, July 18 at 10:00 a.m. in Worthen Arena. You should arrive for commencement by 9:00 a.m. The student processional will begin at 9:40 a.m. Find more information about where to line up here.

All candidates are required to wear academic regalia, so if you haven’t purchased yours yet, be sure to stop by the bookstore as soon as possible. While undergraduate students will sit with their individual college, Masters and Doctoral students will be seated with the Graduate School and cross the stage individually to be recognized. Find more information about the ceremony here.

Be sure to tag your graduation day photos on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter with #ballstategradschool so we can see them!

Photo courtesy of PhD Comics


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A Day in the Life of an Administrative Graduate Assistant

This is part three of our Day in the Life of a Graduate Assistant series. Today, we’re featuring an administrative graduate assistant. To learn more about the different types of assistantships Ball State offers, check out the other posts in this series. 

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Photo credit: Tiernae Salley

Name: Faith Kellermeyer
Administrative Graduate Assistantship Position: Recruiting Event and Social Media Manager, Ball State Graduate School
Program and Graduation Date: Communication Studies, July 2015
Hometown: Berne, Indiana

Brief description of what you do in your role:

My position is split between two main duties. As Recruiting Event Manager, I’m responsible for communicating with departments and prospective students to help plan and coordinate all of the events we hold throughout the academic year. As the Social Media Manager, I run our Facebook page, track analytics, and connect with students who have really cool stories to share, which then end up on this blog.

What’s one task you do every day?

I check Fire Engine Red, the program we use to track registrants for our orientation and information events, every morning when I get into the office.

First thing you do when you wake up:

I’m not a morning person, so I try to ease myself into the day by reading The Skimm on my phone before getting out of bed and listening to music while I get ready.

Typical breakfast:

Coffee and cereal.

First thing you do when you get to work:

I start with checking email, making a list of all the things I have to accomplish that day, and then working on longer-term projects. I try to save the projects that I’m most excited about and interested in (like student testimonials and orientation planning) for later in the day, when I’m most focused.

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On the set of a Graduate School webinar.

It’s 10 a.m.: what are you doing?

One of the things I love about my job is that there is no “typical” day, and my schedule varies a lot. But, mid-morning is often when I have a project meeting with my supervisor and co-workers. During this time, we share project updates and get new assignment deadlines. These projects can be related to upcoming events (like working with other universities to plan an event for next fall) or task-oriented (like editing a video for orientation).

Go-to lunch:

When I’m smart enough to pack a lunch, I typically bring a salad with greens from my community garden plot. When I forget to pack (which happens more often than I’d like), I usually run to The Cup or The Caffeinery to grab a bagel and coffee.

How you beat an afternoon energy-slump:

Did I mention coffee? I’m also a big fan of taking a walk outside when the weather is nice enough. Getting up and moving helps me to clear my head and come back refreshed.

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Presenting on best practice for graduate recruiting at ACPA in 2015.

Favorite part of your day:

The absolute best part of working at Ball State is getting to interact with so many amazing people. I feel really fulfilled anytime that I’m talking to prospective students or working with the Teleplex to create a promotional piece that features a student’s story. I’ve met some of the most interesting people during my time at Ball State, and that’s what keeps me excited to come back to the office every day.

After-work routine:

After work, I’m usually heading to class. Our classes are all during the evening, so sometimes I’m on campus until 10 p.m. Thankfully, Communication Studies classes are mostly discussion-based so it’s easy to stay engaged.

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Welcoming students to orientation. Photo Credit: Ball State University Photo Services

How you wind down at night:

I’m a social media junkie, so I usually wind down by checking Instagram or Pinterest. I also love reading for pleasure, but during the school year I do so much class reading that I’m often more likely to turn to Netflix to watch something that will make me laugh–Parks and Recreation is my go-to.

Last thing you do before you go to bed:

I’m very people-oriented (in case you couldn’t tell), so my favorite way to end the day is by talking on the phone with the people I care about.

Thanks for sharing with us, Faith! 

If you’re starting a new graduate assistant position in the fall, be sure to join our Graduate Assistant webinar on Tuesday, July 14. You’ll learn about the expectations for a graduate assistant and have an opportunity to take part in a live Q&A with a panel of current graduate assistants. Register now.  


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A Day in the Life of a Research Assistant

This is part two of our Day in the Life of a Graduate Assistant series. Today, we’re featuring a research assistant. To learn more about the different types of assistantships Ball State offers, check out the other posts in this series. 

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Name: Brian Kraus
Research Assistantship Position: Psychological Sciences Graduate Assistant
Hometown: Niskayuna, New York
Graduate Program & Anticipated Graduation Date: Clinical Psychology, May 2016

Brief description of what you do in your role: I design studies, analyze data, run subjects, and document the results. I’m involved in the entire research process. I work mainly with Dr. Simon-Dack and Dr. Holtgraves in the psychological sciences department. I work closely with both of them analyzing data and creating paradigms. With Dr. Simon-Dack, I work primarily with electroencephalography, or EEG, which registers electrical activity on the surface of the brain. Right now I primarily working on my thesis with her where I am going to look at differences in cortical activity when people perform creative vs. non-creative tasks and see how these differences relate to traits common in both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. For Dr. Holtgraves, I am currently collaborating with Dr. Simon-Dack to measure EEG activity relating to the processing of scalar implicatures, or the idea that when a person uses the word “some” it implies that they are talking about “some but not all” when technically, the term “some” can be used correctly to mean “all”. We are measuring differences in responses depending on if the implicature is violated or not. I use the EEGLAB function in MATLAB to analyze this data along with Excel, SPSS, R, and SAS.

What’s one task you do every day? I’m usually either programming scripts or using scripts for programs that I’ve made already to analyze data. I do a lot more of that than I anticipated.

First thing you do when you wake up: Check my e-mail. Usually someone has e-mailed me needing an answer to something by the time I get up.

Typical breakfast: I usually don’t eat breakfast–it only slows me down.

Describe the rest of your morning: I try not to wake up before noon. But, after I get up I try to work for a few hours straight.

It’s 10 a.m.: what are you doing? Hopefully still sleeping– I usually work until 4 AM or so, so I like to sleep in when I can.

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Go-to lunch: Jimmy Johns. It’s fast, it’s good, and I don’t even have to leave North Quad. In poorer times, a Pop-Tart is a good backup option.

How you beat an afternoon energy-slump: I don’t–I take frequent afternoon naps.

Favorite part of your day: It’s definitely getting home after going into work. It’s just nice to get home and be able to relax a little bit.

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After-work routine: Usually after I get home from work, I take a break/nap and then do more work from home.

How you wind down at night: I usually end up working until the early morning and there’s not much to do then so I usually just like to listen to music or watch Adult Swim.

Last thing you do before you go to bed: Usually watch Adult Swim and laugh.

Thanks for sharing with us, Brian! 

If you’re starting a new graduate assistant position in the fall, be sure to join our Graduate Assistant webinar on Tuesday, July 14. You’ll learn about the expectations for a graduate assistant and have an opportunity to take part in a live Q&A with a panel of current graduate assistants. Register now.  


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A Day in the Life of a Teaching Assistant

Welcome to A Day in the Life of a Graduate Assistant. This three-part series will introduce you to graduate students with varying types of assistantships and provide you with a glimpse into what a typical day looks like for them. Today, we’re featuring a teaching assistant. To learn more about the different types of assistantships Ball State offers, check back for upcoming posts in this series. 

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Photo Courtesy of Kourtney Maison

Name: Kourtney Maison
Assistantship Position: Teaching Assistant: COMM210, Assistant Basic Course Director, Ball State University Debate Team Assistant
Graduate Program & Anticipated Graduation Date: Communication Studies, May 2016
Hometown: El Dorado, Kansas

Brief description of what you do in your role: As a Teaching assistant, I’m responsible for teaching and enriching the lives of a group of students each semester. I work with the COMM210 programs (Foundations of Public Comminucations), teaching students communication theory and public speaking.

As an assistant to the BSU Debate Team, I help students develop speaking and critical thinking abilities via debate through practice and competition.We travel around the country to debate, and we’re pretty awesome. We’ve won plenty of awards and championships with the brilliant Mr. Mike Bauer at the helm.

As the Assistant Basic Course Director (ABCD), I answer to the Basic Course Director (Dr. Katherine Denker), and attend to various details and facets of the COMM210 curriculum. Dr. Denker is always on top of her game, so I’m usually in the background, following her directions and making sure everything goes perfectly.

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Photo Courtesy of Kourtney Maison

What’s one task you do every day? I always ask Dr. Denker what she needs me to do. While teaching is pretty straightforward, as an ABCD, my job duties can change from day to day, so it’s absolutely essential that I stay in contact (even on weekends and holidays).

First thing you do when you wake up: Turn on my heater. I can’t keep it on overnight (because fire) but I hate the cold. So as soon as I wake up, on it goes. And, like any good millennial, I check my phone for missed calls and messages.

Typical breakfast: A glass of water and a handful of blueberries. If I’m feeling particularly daring, some eggs.

First thing you do when you get to work: Plug in my laptop and get coffee from the office kitchen. We have coffee on deck most of the day, and I teach early in the morning during the school year, so the caffeine helps me be chipper and enthusiastic while I double-check my PowerPoints.

Describe the rest of your morning: During the school year, I teach in the mornings, and after that, I’ll hang out in the office so I can chat with my colleagues and teachers as I work. They’re really smart and funny, and I try to spend as much time around them as I can. They make me smarter and funnier.

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Photo Courtesy of Kourtney Maison

It’s 10 a.m.–what are you doing? Definitely watching my favorite morning talk show, Good Mythical Morning. I sneak it in between teaching and performing my ABCD duties. It’s a nice way to keep myself joyful.

Go-to lunch: Sushi, or salad and a bean burger. I try not to eat fast-food for lunch, and the Atrium has some good healthy options.

How you beat an afternoon energy-slump: I’ll talk with my coworkers! My work is really engaged, so sometimes it also helps to do something mindless, like a quick game or a short walk. A lot of my work is self-directed, so if I feel particularly bogged down, it’s perfectly okay to take a break and come back to my work later.

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Photo Courtesy of Kourtney Maison

Favorite part of your day: When I get done with work, right before I go to debate practice, all of my coworkers are in the office discussing all kinds of things, and although there is no pressure to be critical, it is welcome. I love that business and buzz. That’s where I learn about pop-culture stuff (because I am woefully out of touch).

After-work routine: Once I get home, I’ll watch some Masterchef Junior (if it’s not in season, Hell’s Kitchen), because I need Gordon Ramsay in my life. Then, I call my twin sister and talk to her about her day.

How you wind down at night: MASTERCHEF JUNIOR. There is nothing more uplifting than seeing Gordon Ramsay comfort a seven year old after they fail to make a croque en bouche. Or popsicles.

Last thing you do before you go to bed: Check my schedule for the next day. I’m really forgetful, so I have to triple check everything to make sure I’m not forgetting things. And, of course, I remind myself how lucky I am to have a job that I enjoy, coworkers I like, and a future I look forward to experiencing.

Thanks for sharing with us, Kourtney! Stay tuned for parts two and three of this series for a chance to learn about research and administrative assistantships. 

If you’re starting a new graduate assistant position in the fall, be sure to join our Graduate Assistant webinar on Tuesday, July 14. You’ll learn about the expectations for a graduate assistant and have an opportunity to take part in a live Q&A with a panel of current graduate assistants. Register now.