Ball State Graduate School Blog

Where will graduate school take you?

Leave a comment

A Day in the Life of Hilary Janysek, a graduate student in flute performance

Hi! I am Hilary Janysek, and I am a graduate student in flute performance. I am in my second year of study in the Doctor of Arts Degree, and it is my fourth year at Ball State (I also did my master’s degree here.) Coming to Ball State for graduate studies in music was a HUGE decision for me, as I moved far away from my friends and family, and left a well-paying job as a public-school teacher in Texas. However, as you will see in this snapshot of my life, grad school challenges me to think in new ways and inspires me to go after my dream of becoming a professional performer and university professor.

7:40 – 9:15 AM: This week was only the second week of the semester, so my schedule is still getting settled. I decided to take some down time last night instead of working on some assignments, which is why I woke up so early this morning. My day began by arriving at school at 7:40 a.m. to get to the library and prepare for my 9:30 a.m. class. The class is MUST 722: Seminar in the Principles of Music Theory, or more commonly referred to as Theory Pedagogy. In this course, we learn how to teach music theory to undergraduate students, which is part of the core music curriculum. Music Theory is usually taught by specialists, but many beginning university teachers are assigned to teach this course. Our assignment was to plan a 15-minute lesson on a topic of fundamentals. It had been a while since I had learned or taught the topic I was assigned, but once I started reviewing the text, I became very excited about teaching it. I typed out a lesson plan and printed it just in time to head to class.

On the way out of the library, I stopped by the main desk to pick up a bundle of books that came in through interlibrary loan (a FANTASTIC resource to use). I am starting a research project for my lecture recital, and I ordered many pieces I had never heard of before. Getting new music is like Christmas morning for me, so I was so excited to pick them up and am looking forward to trying them out later!

Interlibrary loan materials

Interlibrary loan materials

9:30-10:45: Theory Pedagogy class. We ran out of time for my teaching assignment, unfortunately. But, I had a blast acting like a student and trying to come up with questions undergraduates might ask. This energized my enthusiasm for teaching even more and got me fired up to teach my lesson next week!

10:50-11:50: Right after class, I had to run downstairs for a meeting with the graduate coordinator of the School of Music, Dr. Linda Pohly, and the director of graduate recruiting and enrollment, Stephanie Wilson. This was another inspiring moment in my day as I got to learn more about what happens “behind the scenes” in terms of recruiting management. We looked at enrollment numbers from previous years and discussed some ways that we can improve recruiting strategies for the future. This meeting and other activities I have participated in as a Graduate Recruiting Ambassador are so important to my career as a university professor, and I am so blessed to take part in them.

11:50-12:15: My “lunch” time. I had a few minutes to eat a power bar and answer emails before my next task. Don’t worry, I’ve been snacking all morning and will continue to snack in the afternoon when I can!

12:30-1:30: I teach a private flute lesson. While in grad school full-time, holding a graduate assistantship in Music History and participating in the Graduate Recruiting Ambassador Program, I also have a very small studio of private flute students to bring in a little extra income. My student today is also a private teacher in the area who wants to improve her playing and eventually audition for graduate programs. We enjoy high-level and pedagogical discussions throughout each lesson, which I LOVE!

1:30-2:30: After the lesson, I head back to the sanctuary of my office, where I spend some time answering emails, organizing some school work and preparing for another class I will be attending tonight.

2:30-4:45: These couple of hours are devoted to accomplishing work for my assistantship. As a GA, I am assigned to 20 hours of work per week. Usually, I teach an undergraduate course, MUHI 100, but this semester is devoted to more administrative tasks for faculty members—organizing and uploading Blackboard content, grading (oh, so much grading!) and working on data files that will lead to a professor’s publication.

5:00-7:40 PM: This is my final class of the day, MUSE 743: Seminar: The Role of Music in Higher Education. I have been looking forward to this class because of what I have heard from other students who have taken it. I knew the rumors would be true when the professor began the class with a statement about how his job in this class was to make sure we all got jobs. Great! That is what I need! Throughout the semester, we will discuss resumes, curriculum vitas, cover letters, the tenure process and how to make a good impression. In the first class, we all had to describe what job we wanted to apply for and why we were qualified in two minutes. It was a great exercise to prepare us to speak eloquently in an interview process. I left the class again feeling inspired and uplifted.

Dinner at Ruby Tuesday

Dinner at Ruby Tuesday

8:00-10:00 PM: Dinner! I had a pretty action-packed day today, so it was nice to meet up with one of my best friends and fellow grad student for dinner at Ruby Tuesday where we enjoyed good food, laughter and great discussion.

10:00-11:30 PM: Since I didn’t get much practice time in today, I had to end the day with a bit of practice. With such a hectic schedule, I really do love practicing. I can really feel progress happening and don’t have to worry about other work-oriented tasks.

Midnight: I finally get home and crash into my bed! I must get some good rest so I can do it all again tomorrow!

I’m not going to lie, life as a grad student for me is EXHAUSTING! But it is the kind of exhausting that makes you excited to get to work, learn and impact others. I would not be who I am today if I didn’t take a leap and go to grad school four years ago. I am excited for what the future holds after achieving my graduate degree, and I will always be thankful to Ball State for providing me with meaningful and applicable experiences, as well as the opportunity to collaborate with talented colleagues.


Leave a comment

A Day in the Life of Robert Young, a graduate student in English

My name is Robert Young, and I’m a graduate student in the master’s in English program with a concentration in creative writing. When I first came to graduate school, there were many myths and preconceived notions I had. Some of those myths were dispelled and proven false; others were confirmed. As part of the series, A Day in the Life of a Grad Student, I’ve kept a diary of my day. Hopefully this account will give those considering graduate school an idea of what to expect out of a graduate program. This is a day in my life as a grad student.


9 AM – 10 AM

Mondays are one of my better days. Typically, I don’t have any obligations until 11 a.m., unlike other days of the week where I can start as early as 10, 9, and even 8 a.m. Between 9 and 10 a.m., I wake up at my leisure. The first thing I do when I wake up is check my phone and clear all the notifications—some text messages from friends, but also a slew of early morning emails to check through. After that, I skim the headlines on my “New York Times” app, read an article or two and then get out of bed.

My morning routine is always the same: shower, breakfast (cereal on busy days, but today I start early enough for eggs and toast) and start to plan ahead for what’s on my plate for the day. I start thinking about all my obligations, the ones I know about, for the upcoming day, but inevitably, more will arise.

10 AM – 11 AM

Do the dishes, get my backpack loaded up with the books I need for the day—this is my miscellaneous hour. With about a half hour of extra free time, I’ll answer some emails, check my social media, write or read a bit. Around 10:30 to 10:45 a.m. I leave my apartment and walk to campus. It takes about 15 minutes walking through the cold morning to get there. I bundle up, of course.

11 AM – 12 PM

I walk into Robert Bell a few minutes before the hour and make my way to the second floor. For half of my assistantship hours I teach a section of English 104, which is in an hour, but for the other half this semester I’ve opted to tutor in the Writing Center. My assistantship stipulates that I work 20 hours a week, and 10 of those hours are in the Writing Center where I tutor and assist students with their writing and school work. Most of my hours fall on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday—I’ve only got one Writing Center hour scheduled for Monday.

I deposit my backpack and jacket in the break room and then go sit in the main room, waiting for my client to arrive. A Writing Center session is usually about 50 minutes long. I assist the client, usually undergrads but sometimes grad students, in any way I can. We read through their essay together, talk about it as we go and correct mistakes.

When the session ends and an hour has past, I bid farewell to my fellow Writing Center tutors, gather my things and march on to my class.

12 PM – 1 PM

I was lucky this semester and got a nice classroom in the David Letterman Communication and Media Building. The other half of my assistantship involves teaching a section of ENG 104, and when I walk into the room on the second floor of Letterman, most of my students have already made it and are sitting down. I walk up to the front, drop my things in the chair and  pull up Blackboard on the projector.

Teaching is usually the aspect of my day that I put the most work into. Last night, I spent a good one to two hours planning my lesson, creating my activities and organizing my class’s Blackboard page. I try to keep things fairly streamlined, but there is still a lot of work involved in uploading assignment sheets, readings and rubrics. When I’m all prepared, I start.

Teaching is something that I used to get really nervous about, but not so much lately since I’ve had more practice. This will be my third semester teaching, but I still get some butterflies immediately before starting. They all go away once I get into it though. I start out with a brief recap of the last things we’ve talked about, remind my students about a few upcoming deadlines, and make a joke. They laugh at it, and I test my luck with a second joke. They laugh less at the second joke, but I still call it a win.

The lesson is a mix of some lecture about the upcoming assignment, then discussion. I get the students into small groups of three to four students each to discuss some questions I wrote last night. I walk around as they discuss, popping into conversations here and there, and when I feel like they’ve had enough time, I move into whole class discussion. The discussion goes well; they bring up good points and make some decent arguments about the topics of the day. A 50-minute class period goes by faster than expected, and I notice that it’s almost time to let them go. They’re hungry for lunch, and so am I. Making an executive decision, I wrap up, give them their homework assignment and let them go two minutes early. I attribute this to my hunger.

1 PM – 2 PM

Some days I pack my lunch while other days, like today, I get lunch at a dining hall. To avoid the initial rush, I walk back to the Robert Bell Building and go up to my office on the third floor. I sit down at my desk, look at social media on my phone a bit, chat with my next door office neighbor and then get back to the task at hand: lunch.

The Atrium isn’t so crowded today, so I wait in line for a sandwich from Boar’s Head Deli. When I get my sandwich, I grab some napkins, fill up the water bottle I carry with me everywhere, wait in line to pay and then grab the latest issue of the Ball State Daily News on my way back to my office.

During my lunch hour, aside from eating, I read the paper, do the crossword and/or Sudoku puzzle and then with any time left, surf around social media.

2 PM – 3 PM 

This hour is when I have office hours, so for the next hour I’ll sit alone in my office. Most of the time, students don’t come to my office hours, though it does happen occasionally. During this hour, assuming no students of mine come by asking for help, I work on some homework. Later on in the day I’ll have night class. There’s some reading I haven’t quite finished yet, so I use this time to do that. When I finish my reading, I answer more emails, work on any other work that I’ve got to finish for later in the week and if I get all that done, I’ll write or read a bit from a book in my backpack.

3 PM – 5 PM

At this point my day is almost done—on hold rather—until my night class later. I walk back to my apartment from my office. When I get home, I sit down for a few minutes to relax. I then break out the vacuum and do a few chores, tidy up the apartment, take out the trash, get the mail—that sort of thing. When all of my chores are completed, I’ll play a video game or watch some TV to relax.

5 PM – 6 PM 

Around 5 p.m. I’ll start dinner which, depending on the how stocked my cupboards are, might be more elaborate than usual. Since I’ve got class creeping up on me, I keep it simple: a salad, some pasta, a piece of chocolate for dessert. When I finish dinner, I clean up the kitchen then get ready to leave.

6:30 PM – 9:30 PM

This class, ENG 667, one of only two classes I’m in as a student this semester, only meets once a week for three hours. It’s in Teacher’s College, so the walk is a little bit further, and with it being extra dark and cold, I hurry to get there. I’ve prepared for the class, and it’s a topic I’m interested in—Victorian Literature. The prospect of a three hour class isn’t so daunting. We get a break at the halfway point, which is when I bust out my snack: a pair of granola bars. After the class finishes, I say goodbye to my friends and start the walk home.

10 PM – 12 AM

When I get home I prepare another snack and retire to my room. I snack as I get back to work. At 12:30 p.m. tomorrow I have my second class as a student, so I spend these two hours doing the reading and preparing any and all homework assignments. I could have gotten a head start earlier during lunch, but I wanted to watch a YouTube video instead. When I finish homework, I get to work on any other assignments I’ve got in the coming week like lesson planning for Wednesday and Friday classes I teach. I even start to get a dent in all the grading I’ve got to do.

12 AM – 1 AM

I start to wind down. I’ve completed all the work that needs to get done, so I relax a bit. I write some more, read some more and practice guitar. Around 1 a.m. I start to get ready for bed, though sometimes I don’t fall asleep until later, especially on days where I’ve got a lot of work that’s piled up. Today I manage to get to bed at a decent hour though. Tomorrow I do it all over again!


That’s a typical Monday in my life. Some days are easier. Some are harder. One thing that grad school forced me to start doing was manage my time better. With the combination of my own classes as a student, the class I teach, the hours I tutor and the mountain of work that I have to take home with me as both a teacher and a student, there’s a lot to do. Once I started to manage my time and use a calendar, things got easier. Grad school is hard and time consuming, but I managed to find a nice life/student/work balance. Finding that balance was necessary for me. I not only survive grad school; I enjoy it! If you have any questions about my day, about my program, or about grad school in general, feel free to email me at

Leave a comment

Recruiting ambassadors assist students on their paths to graduate school

It can be daunting to even think about graduate school, let alone apply. Unfortunately, many students don’t consider grad school as being “right” for them, that they’re not the “type” to go to graduate school, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. People from all walks of life go to grad school, and an advanced degree might be a better fit than some people realize. This was part of the motivation behind a new initiative the Ball State University Graduate School debuted this school year—connecting current graduate to those considering graduate school. We’re calling them our Graduate School Recruiting Ambassadors.

They are all current grad students here at Ball State. In addition to their graduate schoolwork in the various colleges and programs in which they’re enrolled, the ambassadors have agreed to assist with recruitment to the colleges they currently call home. If you’re looking for information on grad school (how to apply, how to get funding or graduate assistantships, how to live as a grad student, etc.) there’s no better people to ask than the ambassadors. Our ambassadors are approachable, knowledgeable, and always willing to help. We are so excited to introduce them and invite those interested in learning more about graduate school to contact them.


Chelce Carter

Chelce Carter is a second year master’s student in the anthropology program, studying applied anthropology with a focus in domestic violence intervention and prevention. She has volunteered at two domestic violence shelters in Indiana, and plans to continue her work in the Delaware County area after graduation. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, spending time with her husband and cat daughter and caring for her pride of barn cats on a small family farm.



Spencer Coile

Spencer is a second-year master’s student in the Communication Department, with a focus on media studies and the rhetoric surrounding HIV Disclosure. He received his bachelor’s from Bowling Green State University from the great land of Bowling Green, Ohio. He currently teaches COMM 210, the Fundamentals of Public Communication, and also serves as a coach for the Ball State Speech Team. His research interests include television and film studies and queer media, particularly when those two coincide.



Morgan Gross

Morgan Gross is a third-year student in the rhetoric and composition Ph.D. program and the graduate assistant director of the writing program. This semester, Morgan will be teaching ENG 213: Intro to Digital Literacies. She holds a bachelor’s in English from Southwestern University and a master’s in rhetoric and composition from Texas State University-San Marcos. She recently submitted for publication collaborative writing center research that examined the potential benefits of the “Habits of Mind” for tutoring practice and student learning. Besides writing center theory, practice and administration, Morgan’s research interests include composition pedagogy, critical theory and language diversity. 



George Hickman

George Hickman is in the final year of his master’s program at Ball State in creative writing. At Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Penn., he studied philosophy and classics and was the president of his school’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance. He also founded the first gender neutral housing on campus and worked with Pennsylvania Student Equality Coalition to create anti-bullying legislation for LGBTQ students in the state of Pennsylvania. By teaching English 103 and 104 at Ball State, he aims to keep up the same advocacy for diversity by centering his courses around themes of family, gender and sexuality. As a creative writer, George has been published in “Fire & Ice,” “The Copperfield Review,” and “Louisville Review.”  His current thesis explores the intersection between gender identity and place identity by juxtaposing characters who have moved away from their gender assigned at birth and characters who have moved away from their birthplace.



Hilary Janysek

Flutist and educator Hilary Janysek has been featured as a soloist with the Ball State Symphony Orchestra, the Texas State University Orchestra and as the Victoria Bach Festival Young Artist. She frequently performs with the Muncie Symphony Orchestra as second flutist and assists with outreach programs. An enthusiastic educator, she has experience teaching all levels of students, from classroom settings to private lessons. Hilary is currently pursuing her Doctorate of Arts degree in flute performance at Ball State University, and is a graduate assistant in music history, where she teaches music appreciation. She also holds a Master of Music degree from Ball State University and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Texas State University.



Chelly Neuenschwander

Since high school, Chelly has pursued counseling, and she is currently a first year Ph.D. student in Ball State’s counseling psychology program. She strongly values human relationships and lives by the phrase, “People need other people.”  She constantly works toward strengthening her relationships with others, and she enjoys teaching others how to have healthier relationships in life, at work and in classroom settings.  She earned her Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Ball State, and she was a double major at Anderson University in psychology and business administration for her bachelor’s. Chelly plans to run her own private practice after finishing her Ph.D., and she plans to transition to full-time university teaching when she is 50 years old.



Preston Radtke

Preston Radtke is a first-year student in the Center for Emerging Media Design and Development. Preston completed his undergraduate career at Ball State in spring of 2016. When he’s done with school Preston wants to work as a writer, or as an adaptive technology specialist.



Jes Wade

Jes Wade is a second year graduate student pursuing her master’s degree in public administration. She attended Ball State for her undergraduate degree in telecommunications with minors in leadership, communications, and sociology. Jes founded the Cardinal Kitchen Food Pantry for Ball State students in 2014. She currently serves as the unit director. She has been an active member of the Ball State Women’s Rugby Club for the last five years and currently plays scrum half.



Robert Young

Robert Young was born and raised in Fort Wayne, Ind. He is a second year master’s student in English with a specialization in creative writing at Ball State, where he also completed his undergraduate degree. He was the lead poetry editor for the spring 2015 issue of “The Broken Plate,” Ball State’s undergraduate literary magazine. When he’s not teaching first-year writing courses or studying writing as a student, Robert enjoys writing poetry, fiction and hybrid works in between. His work has been published in “Noble/Gas Qtrly,” “Easy Street” and “Exceptions Journal,” and is forthcoming in “Midwestern Gothic.” Currently, he is working on a manuscript of hybrid work that combines different styles and genres that he enjoys.



With ambassadors in a range of programs, from creative writing and music performance to counseling and anthropology, they are ready to help. If you have any questions at all for any one of them—about graduate school in general, about their specific programs or if you just want to chat—they’ll have an answer. They’re working hard to inform students and professionals about graduate school. Whether you’re currently enrolled in a grad program, making the transition to a grad program, or only thinking about grad school as a possible path, don’t hesitate to get in touch with them.


This post was written by Ambassador Robert Young.

Leave a comment

The Graduate School takes a look back at 2016

The year 2016 was full of highs and lows not only in our state, country and around the globe, but also in our world here at the Graduate School. We mourned a great loss and celebrated accomplishments both in our office and across campus.

We were heartbroken to learn in November of the passing of our fearless leader, Dr. Robert Morris, who at the time was serving the university as its chief academic officer. Here at the Graduate School, we will cherish the advice, memories, jokes and leadership of Dr. Morris. We are grateful for the work and leadership of Dr. Carolyn Kapinus, now the Interim Associate Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School. With grace and poise, Dr. Kapinus has accepted the challenge of continuing the great work of the Graduate School on the foundation Dr. Morris created.

Throughout the year, we’ve shared stories on our blog of some of the great work being done by graduate students, faculty and staff. Below, we’ve highlighted some of our brightest stars. We hope you’ll take some time to explore the great work that we have and will continue to tackle in the coming year. If you have a story to share, we’d love to hear it.

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.

Passion for football coaching drives grad student’s thesis work

Ball State graduate Dan Tracy knew when he came to Muncie to pursue a master’s degree in Sports Administration that he also wanted to continue pursuing his passion for coaching football.

Grad student’s creativity, passion for teaching earns him Graduate Assistant of the Year

Ball State University offers graduate assistantship positions for nearly 1,000 students on campus each year. And every year from that pool of students, one is chosen to receive the Graduate Assistant of the Year award.

Ball State grad’s final project aims to improve lives of Chinese citizens through landscape architecture

Ball State University alumnus Chenyuan Gu opted to study more than 6,000 miles from his home—a small island near Shanghai, China—but he was able to connect his final project in the Master of Landscape Architecture program back to the region where he’s from.

Admissions specialist’s work with students fulfills dream of becoming a teacher

At the Staff Recognition and Retirement Awards Program, Graduate Admissions Specialist Linda Jones began to wonder what was going on when she realized her son and many of her colleagues in the Department of Educational Psychology, including John Jacobson, dean of the Teachers College, were all in attendance.

Tireless recruiting efforts pay off for CICS director

If you meet Steve Jones, director of the Center for Information and Communication Sciences, in line at the grocery, be careful—you might be recruited to the center’s graduate program. His spirit, hard work and abilities to cultivate relationships earned him recognition from the Graduate School as the recipient of an Exemplary Recruiter Award.

Educational psychology professor leads department toward success in recruiting

It’s important for us at the Graduate School to recognize excellence, but even more important is to share knowledge and support within the university community. So each year, when we give a program director in the Graduate Enrollment Management (GEM) program the Excellence in Recruiting Award, or GEMMY Award as we call it, we also ask the winner to share insights in a training for other leaders in the GEM program.

1 Comment

Educational psychology professor leads department toward success in recruiting

Jerrell Cassady, the 2015-2016 Excellence in Recruiting Award winner, shares recruiting insights during a fall training session.

Jerrell Cassady, the 2015-2016 Excellence in Recruiting Award winner, shares recruiting insights during a fall training session.

It’s important for us at the Graduate School to recognize excellence, but even more important is to share knowledge and support within the university community. So each year, when we give a program director in the Graduate Enrollment Management (GEM) program the Excellence in Recruiting Award, or GEMMY Award as we call it, we also ask the winner to share insights in a training for other leaders in the GEM program.

The 2015-2016 winner Jerrell Cassady, who oversees two masters and one Ph.D. program in the Department of Educational Psychology, was nominated for not only the breadth of his recruiting, but also for the innovative ways in which he used recruiting best practices.

“The most notable aspect of Jerrell’s efforts as a recruiter is that he is not just active, but proactive, in every possible avenue for attracting students to our programs,” wrote Sharon Paulson, chairperson of the Department of Educational Psychology and a professor of psychology, in her nomination of Cassady for the award.

During the training earlier this year, Cassady illustrated his proactive efforts, particularly with changing one of the master’s programs into an entirely online program. Cassady anticipated a drop in enrollment in the department’s master of arts program in educational psychology due to changes at the state level related to teacher pay scales and advanced degrees. To remain solvent, Cassady knew the program would have to make some changes to attract new students. But many of the students in this new audience were choosing other programs over Ball State.

“If you can’t beat the competition, change the game,” he said.

The answer, Cassady found, was to change the program’s delivery mode, a move that proved to be beneficial.

“We wouldn’t have survived otherwise, because we weren’t accessible,” Cassady said.

But Cassady emphasized that he doesn’t work alone. He often calls on experts from across the university, including those who work in the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and the Division of Strategic Communications, to assist with marketing materials, messaging and data to drive decisions. He also credits his colleagues in the department, including 2016 Meritorious Service Award-winner Linda Jones, with providing care and support to students from even before they apply all the way through graduation.

Cassady shows that it’s not only about the tools within reach, but how and when those tools are applied that can make a difference in providing an experience that prospective students want to be a part of.

Leave a comment

Tireless efforts earn CICS director Graduate School Exemplary Recruiter Award

If you meet Steve Jones, director of the Center for Information and Communication Sciences, in line at the grocery, be careful—you might be recruited to the center’s graduate program. His spirit, hard work and abilities to cultivate relationships earned him recognition from the Graduate School as the recipient of an Exemplary Recruiter Award.

“Dr. Jones is a recruiting machine,” wrote College of Communication and Information Sciences Dean Roger M. Lavery in his letter nominating Jones for the award. “He has strong relationships with several feeder programs across campus, and he constantly recruits students in the hallways, at the pool, at his church…everywhere.”

Beyond the university and the Muncie community, Jones has made connections with feeder institutions across the states of Indiana and Michigan, making regular trips to maintain relationships with faculty at other colleges and universities and creating student pipelines to the CICS program through his efforts.

Jones’ commitment to students begins even before they apply and extends well beyond graduation. He serves as a professor, mentor, career counselor, some students’ best reference and has even officiated the wedding of a former student.

“Dr. Jones spends more time building and maintaining relationships with alumni and employers than any other person I know,” Lavery wrote.

Jones’ efforts have helped the CICS program improve the quality of its applicants and maintain a high placement rate of 95% for students, even before graduation, according to Lavery’s nominating letter.

“[Jones] devotes 10- to 12-hour weekdays in the office to accomplish the many achievements and maintain the relationships that keep CICS in the top-tier nationally of information systems graduate programs,” Lavery wrote. “I can think of no more suited for this prestigious award.”

Leave a comment

Ball State grad’s final project aims to improve lives of Chinese citizens through landscape architecture

Ball State University alumnus Chenyuan Gu was the winner of the 2015-2016 Outstanding Creative Project Award.

Ball State University alumnus Chenyuan Gu was the winner of the 2015-2016 Outstanding Creative Project Award.

Ball State University alumnus Chenyuan Gu opted to study more than 6,000 miles from his home—a small island near Shanghai, China—but he was able to connect his final project in the Master of Landscape Architecture program back to the region where he’s from.

Chen’s creative project, aimed at improving the lives of Xiamen Village residents through ecotourism, was the recipient of Outstanding Creative Project for the 2015-2016 school year.

Chen targeted Xiamen Village, located near the Tea Valley National Park in Zhoushan Island, because some basic facilities of the park are located in the village–a visitors’ center, parking and a restaurant.

“So every time I went to the park, I would come by the village. And I mainly [talked] to people in charge of the National Park for the whole project,” he wrote in an email.

Chen is part of a younger generation of Chinese experiencing rapid urbanization of many areas of the country, he said. He wanted to use his education as a landscape architecture student to bring a healthy, active and eco-friendly lifestyle to those residents—mostly elderly and children—who remain in rural areas, in the hopes of reducing loneliness and isolation.

This examination of issues related to urbanization could have a strong impact in the field, said Simon Bussiere, Chen’s advisor on the project and a former professor in the program.


“Chen is a wonderful student, and his work is a critical contribution to the field, particularly in light of the ecological and cultural impacts China is facing due to rapid urbanization and subsequent development pressures,” he said in an email.

Chen’s project specifically introduces ecotourism to an area of Tea Valley National Park. The goal was to create sustainable economic development in a way that conserves the natural environment and cultural heritage of the area. Chen also involved local residents, communities and other stakeholders in developing the ecotourism process.

But the most important aspect Chen learned from the project was not related to the village or ecotourism–it was the process for conducting research. Not only were his advisor and advisory committee members helpful, but also his classmates and Geri Strecker, an assistant professor in the College of Architecture and Planning, who assisted Chen with his writing.

“Writing such a long paper would be my biggest challenge as an international student,” Chen said. “So I am very happy that CAP [has] Geri to help students with their writing. In my last semester, I would talk to Geri [about] my project every week and figure out which is the best way to express my idea.”

Chen said he has also improved his English-speaking abilities throughout his time at Ball State. He will take these skills, paired with his Ball State graduate education, as he continues his education at Harvard University’s School of Design.