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Award winner tapped mentoring to increase opportunities for minority students

It’s apparent based on her work that Dr. Robin Phelps-Ward, who earned both her graduate and doctoral degrees from Ball State, recognizes the power of mentoring for all students, but particularly the difference it can make it the lives of underrepresented minority students. She co-created a mentoring program at Ball State that targets students looking to earn advanced degrees and worked with Pro100 initiative, a community program to help underrepresented youth in Delaware County.

She is paving path for these populations of students, not only through her own research, but as an example and role model. Her dissertation, examining the effects of mentoring programs on underrepresented students, earned her the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Dissertation Award, making Phelps-Ward the first woman of color to receive the award.

Dr. Thalia Mulvihill, professor of social foundations and higher education, nominated Phelps-Ward for the award, writing, “While I have taught and advised over 1000 graduate students within the last 21 years, rarely have I encountered a student so passionately enthusiastic about the relationship between her scholarship and teaching, matched with an imagination for innovative research projects that is palpable.”

In her nomination of Phelps-Ward, Mulvihill also emphasized how Robin’s work is being recognized by scholars in the field. In November 2014 the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) invited Robin to participate in a special Graduate Student Policy Seminar in Washington, D.C. Robin was nominated for the prestigious, national K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award and the International Congress for Qualitative Inquiry (ICQI) Qualitative Dissertation of the Year Award.

Phelps-Ward’s work will leave a lasting impression at Ball State as the Ph.D. Pathways program continues to grow. She is further pursuing her passion and research as a faculty fellow at Clemson University.


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Music composition conference coming to Ball State

Hard work pays off as doctoral student composer cohosts national event


Ball State doctoral student Carter Rice

For four years, the Society of Composers’ Student National Conference has been on hiatus becausedespite some universities’ interest in hosting the conferenceno one has stepped up to log the hours it takes to organize the conference, Ball State Doctor of Arts student Carter Rice said. That’s changing this year, thanks to Carter’s determination and vision as the national student representative for the organization.

The conference will be held at Ball State Nov. 17-19 in the Music Instruction Building, in Choral and Sursa halls. There will be seven different concerts featuring student compositions from all over the U.S., many performed by Ball State graduate students.

Carter’s drive to host the conference stems from his belief in the importance of submitting to conferences and getting student music played for audiences as a way to build a curriculum vita, and for the networking opportunities.

“[It is] really hard to do as a student, especially an undergraduate student when you don’t get paid,” he said. Carter hopes to give as many young composers the opportunity to do those things by offsetting some of the costs through hosting the conference at Ball State.

But the conference benefits more than just students, Carter says. “We don’t usually get a chance to hear this sort of music on the radio, or out in public; in addition to that, we get to hear what young people are doing and creating.” He says this generation of composers have challenged people’s perceptions and assumptions about composers by creating music that’s at home in a concert all as it is in a club, bar or new art scene. “It’s music that shouldn’t scare people away, but really invite people in. It is very approachable and accessible; some of it is a bit crazy, but fun as well. So musician or not, there is absolutely something to be gained from it, even if it is just a matter of seeing what people are doing artistically today, because it changes so rapidly.”

About 150 compositions were submitted from varying experience levels from 18 year-old students to post-doctoral composers. Carter, a doctor of arts student in theory and composition with a secondary emphasis in telecommunications, and cohost Chad Powers examined the compositions and selected 50 to be performed at the conference. Carter admits that it has been a lot of work to host, but he looks forward to a successful event.

For more information, such as the schedule of events and compositions, visit the conference website.