Ball State Graduate School Blog

Where will graduate school take you?

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

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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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