Ball State Graduate School Blog

Where will graduate school take you?

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Meet Frank and Lauren, the owners of The Caffeinery!

Being successful in graduate school requires hard work, determination, and (in many cases) copious amounts of caffeine. Luckily for incoming Ball State graduate students, The Caffeinery is here to support your coffee-drinking habits! We’re excited to introduce you to Lauren and Frank Reber, owners of The Caffeinery, where the Graduate Student Mixer will take place during orientation on Thursday, August 20. Aside from the coffee shop, Lauren is a musician and professional photographer that specializes in wedding and lifestyle photography. Frank is a musician and recording engineer who specializes in recording music. Read on to learn more about this dynamic duo’s involvement in downtown Muncie and what to expect at the mixer. 

caffeinery 2

Photo courtesy of The Caffeinery

About their business: 

“The Caffeinery is a coffee shop and tea house that specializes in gourmet coffees, loose leaf teas, and espresso-based beverages. Whether you’re looking for a morning cup of coffee or a sun cured single origin ethiopian, you can count on our highly skilled baristas to execute your coffee needs with artistic precision. The Caffeinery is located in downtown Muncie, Indiana and is housed in northeast corner of the historic Murray building. The beautiful open-concept shop has been painstakingly designed to match the timeless visual aesthetics of the building itself.”

Photo courtesy of The Caffeinery

Photo courtesy of The Caffeinery

On how they decided to get into the coffee business: 

“We were actually at a local pub, called the Fickle Peach, when we overheard a group of people complaining that downtown Muncie lacked a proper coffee shop and how disappointing it is to live in a town where you couldn’t get a decent cup of coffee. We looked at each other and started to realize that coffee was the one thing we had always had in common between our two lines of work. She was always meeting clients at coffee shops and I was always making and serving coffee in the studio. Coffee seemed like it was something we could both do and do well.”

the caffeinery

Photo courtesy of The Caffeinery

On what new graduate students should know about downtown Muncie:

“Downtown Muncie is currently in the process of a grand transformation involving many large-scale infrastructure upgrades aimed at making the area a better place for everyone. Don’t let the construction turn you away from the many wonderful destinations that comprise the area. ”

On what students can expect at the Caffeinery mixer:
“Students can expect to enjoy a wide variety of gourmet coffee and tea selections! Our highly trained baristas will do their best to find you the perfect drink for your day!”
Photo courtesy of The Caffeinery

Photo courtesy of The Caffeinery

Thanks for sharing with us, Lauren & Frank! Keep up with The Caffeinery by checking out their website or following them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
You won’t want to miss the opportunity to socialize with new graduate students at the mixer on Thursday, August 20– register now and check out a preliminary schedule of orientation events here! You can catch a free ride on the historic MITS trolley that evening, which will run directly from campus to The Caffeinery every 30 minutes from 5-7 p.m. 

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Meet Christina, a local comic store owner and keynote speaker for orientation!

We’re excited to introduce you to Christina Blanch, who will be the keynote speaker at Graduate School Orientation on August 20! Christina is an author and educator, and her connection to Ball State University runs deep– she earned both her BS and MA in Anthropology (with a focus in Historical Archaeology) from Ball State, and she is ABD in the Educational Studies doctoral program. On top of her ties to the university, Christina is also heavily involved in the Downtown Muncie community, where she owns Aw Yeah Comics. She took some time to give us some background on her business and to share her advice for new graduate students.

Super Christy

Photo Courtesy of Christina Blanch

On her business: 

Aw Yeah Comics just moved to a new location in downtown Muncie, right between Dan’s Downtown Records and Savage’s. Some of our customers now do a three part stop on Wednesdays (new comic book day) by going to Dan’s, our store, and then lunch at Savage’s–it’s awesome. We have only been there a few months but we have been downtown for two years and we love it! We like to think of ourselves as more than just a comic book shop, but a place where people can come to hang out and meet other like minded individuals. We have movie nights, game nights, lots of signings, and much more. My assistant manager Kyle and I do the bulk of the work but we have some part timers like Amber and Sy that help us out when they can.

Her favorite thing about living in Muncie: 

The people and the camaraderie. Most of the people in Muncie are awesome and will do whatever they can to help one another out. I also love all the history and how the buildings and especially the houses in the historic districts are all so beautiful and so unique.


Photo Courtesy of Christina Blanch

Her advice for new graduate students:

There is a lot to do downtown and it’s getting more and more diverse all the time. There are more than restaurants and bars. There are gaming stores, toy stores, boutiques, record stores, and of course, an awesome comic book shop.

On getting involved in the Muncie community:

Look around for something that interests you. There are many hidden gems around Muncie. It’s pretty surprising, actually.

On what new students can expect from her keynote address at orientation:

There will be a lot about what it’s like doing your graduate work at Ball State and living in Muncie. They will hear about my experiences in graduate school and how I think you can get the most out of their journey  – things they can use once they enter the real world.


Photo Courtesy of Christina Blanch

Thanks for sharing with us, Christina! 

Don’t miss more of Christina’s advice during her keynote address at Graduate School Orientation on Thursday, August 20– register now and check out a preliminary schedule of events here.  

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Meet Judy, a fashion merchandising student and world traveler

We’re happy to introduce you to Judy Qiong Zhu, who came to Ball State from China to pursue both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. While pursuing her Masters degree in Fashion Merchandising, she held a graduate assistantship in the Rinker Center for International Programs and had the opportunity to travel to multiple countries as part of an interdisciplinary team. Judy sat down with us to share more about her graduate experience and why she’s pleased with her choice to attend Ball State. 

Face photo

Photo courtesy of Judy Zhu

On what drew her to Ball State:

“I joined an Asian Cooperation program that was called Sino-American CHEPD 1+2+1  and came to Ball State when I was a junior. I was majoring in Business Administration and Human Recourse Management. I fell in love with Ball State once I arrived here because it has a very diverse community. I have met and made friends with people from all around the world.

After I earned my undergraduate degree from Ball State in May 2014, I was inspired by Angela Ahrendts, a fabulous Ball State alumnus, who graduated from the fashion merchandising program here. She had a deep influence on my decision to come back to Ball State to pursue my graduate program.”

Study Abroad trip in Machu Picchu Peru

Photo courtesy of Judy Zhu

On what she learned as a graduate assistant:

“I have been working as a graduate assistant in the Ball State Rinker Center for International Programs since August 2014. I’ve been able to assist my supervisor, the director of Ball State China Initiative, to promote Ball State University in China through the Asian Cooperation programs.  I’ve learned so many important lessons from my supervisor and my peers that have helped me succeed in the working environment. I have come to realize that being reliable, respectful and responsible would help me excel in my future career.  My colleagues are also very warm, cheerful, caring and inspiring. I am not only shown ‘what’ to do, and ‘how’ to do projects but also taught ‘why’ things are approached and processed in certain ways. My ideas and opinions are also respected.”

Ball State Chinese New Year Event 2015

Photo courtesy of Judy Zhu

On the travel opportunities she’s had at Ball State:

“I am passionate about appreciating different cultures, and as a student at Ball State, I’ve been able to achieve my dream of traveling the world. During summer of 2015, I joined the Ball State CAP Americano Study Abroad program and I was given the chance to travel to Argentina, Bolivia and Peru.

I received many unique opportunities to visit some of the top companies in these countries, including a food factory, a fashion company, a government organization, and hospital network. At each, I was able to talk to members in the senior management team.  I have received more information of the operations and built personal connections with these companies. These trips have also offered some special opportunities for me to work with the colleges students from different countries.”

International Ambassador%27s Association in the Ball State Homecoming Parade 2014

Photo courtesy of Judy Zhu

On how Ball State is preparing her for a professional career:

“My graduate assistantship experience and the student organization leadership opportunities I had during my time at Ball State have shaped me into a better professional. I interviewed with a Fortune 500 company and they provided me an offer. Ball State has played a vital role in preparing me to be a competent candidate for this position.”

On how Ball State has transformed her life:

“This place has helped me build outstanding leadership skills and it has enabled me to confidently communicate with people from all over the world. It also helped me realize my dreams and taught me that nothing is impossible. I’ve been empowered to be very independent and strong, and I’ve been able to realize what my life goals are during my time here.”

Her advice for incoming students:

“Explore the various opportunities available through Ball State and actively involve yourself. Students should use every opportunity to enhance their skills and prepare themselves for the professional world. Keep a positive attitude towards life here and be proud to be part of Ball State. Enjoy yourself!”

Thanks for sharing with us, Judy!

If you’d like to learn more about the Fashion Merchandising program or any Masters degrees in Family and Consumer Sciences, check out their website or contact their graduate program director. To learn more about the Rinker Center for International Programs, visit their website

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Meet Greg, a Doctoral Fellow whose passion for learning was fueled in the Human Performance Lab

Today we’re excited to introduce you to Greg Grosicki, a Doctoral Fellow in the Human Performance Laboratory earning his PhD in Human Bioenergetics. Greg has had the opportunity to work on a number of exciting research projects, including a partnership with NASA to prevent muscle atrophy in astronauts. He spent some time sharing with us about how his graduate experience at Ball State ignited his passion for learning. 


Photo courtesy of Ball State Photo Services

On how he’s been transformed during graduate school:

“My experience at Ball State has fostered in me a true passion for knowledge. I have learned to think and problem-solve in innovative and creative ways and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store!”

On how he chose Ball State:

“I knew the Human Performance Lab at Ball State was where I wanted to pursue my graduate career because it would provide me with the opportunity to work in an internationally recognized facility alongside leading experts in the field. Working with the faculty and other students at Ball State I knew that I would be challenged in a way that would help me to reach my potential and set me up for success in my career.”


Photo courtesy of Ball State Photo Services

On the impact of his peers and faculty members:

“The best thing about getting a graduate degree at Ball State is the caliber of people you will meet and get to work with during your time here.  Every day I look forward to coming to school and getting to learn from and work with people who truly care about my success. These interactions create an environment where the sky is the limit.”

On the value of a graduate assistantship:

“The graduate assistantship I received in the Human Performance Lab truly is the best part of my experience here at Ball State. For as much as I learn in the classroom nothing can compare to the experience in the lab. Because of the daily interactions and constant sharing of ideas between students and faculty the lab becomes a second family. We learn together, exercise together, even eat together, it is an incredible bond and an atmosphere that challenges you to do your best.”


Photo courtesy of Ball State Photo Services

On the importance of a support network:

“I’ll never forget a poster in my 3rd grade math class that read ‘Shoot for the moon. Even if even if you miss, you will land among the stars.’ I have been fortunate throughout my educational career to receive support to keep aiming at that moon from my family, friends, teachers and academic advisors. I am so thankful for the encouragement I have received that has provided me with the strength to continue to pursue my dreams and lead me to attend graduate school at Ball State.”

On the practical application of his studies:

“The comprehensive and multi-faceted nature of my education at Ball State has prepared me to succeed regardless of my career choice after I graduate. During my time at Ball State I have overcome barriers and proved to myself there really are no limits to what I can achieve.”

Thanks for sharing with us, Greg! 

If you’d like to learn more about graduate programs in the Human Performance Laboratory, check out their website or contact the program director, Scott Trappe