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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.


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Passion for football coaching drives grad student’s thesis work


Dan Tracy

Dan Tracy (second from right) poses for a photo after receiving the 2015-2016 Distinguished Master’s Thesis Award with (left to right) Associate Professor Chrysostomos Giannaoulakis, graduate student Shea Brgoch, Jamie Johnson and graduate student Bekka Westrick.

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. Jamie Johnson, graduate coordinator for Sport Administration, said he was initially skeptical Tracy could balance the rigor of graduate school with the demands of coaching, but found Tracy to be true to his word — he was able to manage his time while serving as Muncie Central High School’s defensive coordinator. Tracy’s passion for coaching lead him to explore the topic more in-depth in his thesis “Examining Prior Experiences and Career Attainment of FBS Football Head Coaches” — which earned him the 2015-2016 Distinguished Master’s Thesis Award.

“I had known upon entering the graduate program in sport administration that I had wanted to study the sport of football in some context, and then as I progressed in my own coaching career it became clear I was interested in the career progression of college football coaches,” Tracy said in an email.

He had always thought that the “easier” route for future coaches would be to play their sport in college; however, Tracy was unable to find studies that looked at the transition from athlete to coach among U.S. college football coaches.

“The opportunity to explore [an] under-researched topic that was of interest to colleagues and myself was intriguing,” he said.

Tracy’s study of literature on coaching career progression and development is the only one of its kind, Johnson said. Given the strength and significance of Tracy’s work, Johnson believes the thesis has great potential for publication. The work is currently being reviewed by the International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching, a respected journal in the coaching field.

“The quality of work exhibited in Dan’s thesis was equal to that seen at the dissertation level,” Johnson wrote in his letter nominating Tracy for the award. “Any of his four research questions could have stood alone for thesis work, but Dan aspired to provide a wide-ranging analysis that could inform multiple audiences and be practically relevant.”

Tracy gives some credit to Johnson, who guided and mentored him throughout the process.

“Dr. Johnson was always there to challenge me when I wanted to take a shortcut in the process and was there to calm and refocus me when the project became overwhelming,” Tracy said. “I am grateful to him for his leadership, mentorship and friendship over the last three years.”

Tracy also said he feels fortunate for his experience at Ball State, from his work and interactions with Johnson to colleagues at Ball State and Muncie Central and the faith community he found at St. Francis of Assisi University Parish and Newman Center.

“I will forever cherish my two years in Muncie and would encourage all who have the privilege to pursue post-secondary education to consider Ball State,” he said.

Tracy graduated in May of 2016 and now serves as a campus missionary with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students at Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minn.

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Orientation speaker aims to encourage success among incoming graduate students

Wil_Davis speaking

Pictured is Wil Davis, CEO of Noble Why and interim president Ball State Innovation Connector, during a speaking engagement.

Ball State University Graduate School’s fall orientation is all about encouraging new professional and personal relationships and creating connections among students and potential mentors. This year’s speaker embodies that mission, leaving a successful company to better help people build relationships and foster connections.

Wil Davis  president, Ball State Innovation Connector has extensive experience in corporate leadership as the cofounder of Ontario Systems, a software company specializing in healthcare and other systems management and one of Muncie’s great success stories. Last year, the company was named Indiana’s top place to work by the state Chamber of Commerce, a tribute to the culture a leader like Davis can create.

But what Davis really loves is to encourage and nurture people, facilitating the building of relationships and communities around passion and purpose.

“That’s what I feel rewarded by,” he said.

He’s able to do that as the founder and CEO of Noble Why where he serves as a business consultant to improve company cultures. He found his way to Ontario Systems and his current position after feeling disappointed and unfulfilled with the work he was doing in his first couple jobs. But, he admits that those jobs weren’t a waste of time, and he wouldn’t be where he is today without them.

He’s bringing his experiences and message as the keynote speaker for Fall Orientation 2016. He hopes to help students articulate their own “Noble Why” to help guide them in life’s decisions.  

“I hope students are challenged to think about their lives from an intentional perspective, connecting their passions and personal purpose with their vocational and avocational lives,” Davis said.  “As students begin their graduate careers, our goal is to prepare them for a life of success in things that matter!”

To learn more about Davis, his full biography is available online. He’s also the author of a book about company culture.

If you haven’t already done so, be sure to register for orientation. Wil Davis will be speaking at 1 p.m. in Pruis Hall.

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Professor’s Kenyan ties provide cross-cultural research opportunities for Ball State students, faculty


Students in Shivembe, Kenya, rejoice after receiving school supplies collected by Ball State University students and faculty in the Educational Psychology department.

As Ball State University students passed around packages to school children, Wilfridah Mucherah, Ph.D., saw tears in many of the students’ eyesa sharp contrast to the school children’s excitement, exhibited by bright eyes and wide, toothy smiles. It’s hard for those of us in the states to imagine kids in elementary and middle school jumping up and down, rejoicing about receiving a school uniform. But for these Kenyan children, school uniforms make all the difference in whether or not they can receive an education.

Mucherah, a professor of developmental psychology in the Educational Psychology department, was born in Shivembe, Kenya, a small village in the northwest part of the East African country. In 2000, she returned to the village to visit family, as she does annually, taking along her two young sons. She visited the village’s primary school not far from her childhood home with her 3-year-old son in tow.

“He got so excited because most of the kids were barefoot, so he took off his shoes,” Mucherah remembered. “He thought it was so fun, because he thought it was by choice, right.”

She noticed that some children remained in the village during the day, not making the 30-minute trek to school. She suspected, and confirmed with the school’s headmaster, it was because these families couldn’t afford school uniforms, a requirement to attend school in Kenya. When she returned home, she spoke with her husband about providing uniforms for the children most in need. She asked her mom to identify the children who cannot afford uniforms, not realizing the final count would total 20. Although she and her husband could not provide for all, they purchased 12 uniforms that year.

“I was so proud of what we had done,” she said. “It was such a big deal, and everyone was talking about it in the village. We are like stars, right. And it was good to see those 12 kids go to school.”


Ball State University professor Wilfridah Mucherah, Ph.D. hands a pencil and a pen to a child at a primary school in Shivembe, Kenya.

What began as a donation of 12 uniforms by Mucherah and her husband has evolved into a cause embraced by the entire Department of Educational Psychology. Faculty, staff and students have rallied behind Mucherah, her native village and the primary school to deliver uniforms, desks and other school supplies, painkillers and more. Students formed a group called DESK, Delivering Education Supplies to Kenya, to help collect donations for the cause. Last year, the groupwith the help of matching funds faculty within the departmentcollected $4,000 to deliver more than 250 uniforms to students in both primary and secondary schools in Kenya.

A discussion in 2006 about how the department could become more engaged sparked the idea to collaborate with universities in the area. Mucherah wrote to two universitiesMoi University in Eldoret and Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology in Kakamegaand both agreed to the partnership.The agreement, signed officially in 2007, prioritizes student and faculty exchange, research collaboration and capacity building. Since then, only two groups of students took immersive learning trips because of student travel bans to the country, but faculty are still allowed to travel to Kenya.

Last summer eight Ball State faculty visited the area, providing research workshops for both universities in an effort to increase the number of doctorate degrees. Students and faculty from Moi and MMUST have also visited and attended Ball State, and Mucherah has conducted research, published and presented at conferences in partnership with Kenyan faculty. Department Chair Sharon Paulson said the cross-cultural research has enhanced literature in the field.

The benefits of the partnership extend beyond academics, Paulson said. The collaborations with the schools in Kenya have provided a better understanding of cultural diversity and enriched teaching within the department, she said.

“Such relationships are hard to build without a personal foundation,” Paulson said. “[Mucherah] opened the door to countless opportunities for both students and faculty.”


Primary students at a school in Shivembe, Kenya, show off school supplies they received as part of an ongoing partnership with Ball State University.

The collaboration has continued to grow, beyond the department. The most-recent visit involved faculty from Telecommunications and Unified Communications to assist the universities with communication and technology. But Mucherah said that the program’s start within the Educational Psychology Department has been key to its success.

“The department has just rallied. The students are excited about it,” she said. “It is a very healthy program.”

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Master’s in Emerging Media draws from many disciplines

Ball State University’s new master’s program in Emerging Media Design & Development is a graduate degree designed for the 21st century; it draws students from diverse backgrounds into a holistic learning environment in Year 1 and provides hands-on experience in the Applied Research and Creative Projects labs in Year 2.

The Center for Emerging Media Design & Development aims to advance students’ creative problem solving skills and develop a graduate-level workforce with practical experience in storytelling, applied research, and development in digital strategic communication design. The Center has forged partnerships with Circle of Blue, Professor Garfield and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra to provide students with real-world experience. The program has both on-campus and online information sessions coming up for those interested in learning more.

We asked a couple students in the program to find out more about who they are and what they’re hoping to gain from this program. Here’s what they said.


Aiste Manfredini

Aiste was born in Klaipeda, Lithuania, and raised in the greater Chicago area. She earned her bachelor’s degree in magazine media from Ball State. During her time as an undergrad, she became involved with Global Brigades, an international nonprofit that assists communities in meeting their health and economic goals. As a sophomore, Aiste founded a Ball State chapter of Global Brigades and led the organization as chair. She has a passion for sustainability and is particularly interested in learning about sustainable design and social entrepreneurship. When she’s not studying, in class or working at her graduate assistantship in the Unified Media Lab, she enjoys cooking, traveling and practicing yoga. 

Why EMDD at Ball State?

I chose EMDD because I wanted to learn how to combine my passion for storytelling and social activism to solve the world’s biggest problems.

How are you applying your skills in the program?

Throughout my undergraduate experience I developed skills in longform storytelling and news reporting, team management and leadership. Since I started studying EMDD, I’ve applied and developed these skills to lead and organize project teams and create digital and physical experiences that engage people with an important story.

How do you hope to apply what you’re learning in EMDD in your future career?

I hope to apply the skills I learn from EMDD to organizations in the social and environmental sector. I want to help organizations tell their big story and create projects that engage and motivate their audience to take action. Someday I would love to start a social enterprise.

What has been the most challenging part of the program/graduate school so far?

The first semester of graduate school was stressful for me because of the transition from an undergraduate-level workload to a graduate-level workload. Big difference! In the beginning, the EMDD program was challenging because there was a lot of uncertainty when it came to creating and developing new projects. Our professors didn’t tell project teams what to create; we were challenged to figure it out for ourselves.

How did you spend your winter break?

I spent a lot of time reading for pleasure, visiting family and catching up on sleep.

What has been your favorite grad school class so far? Why?

My favorite class so far has been Interactive Media Design and Development. Students have been assigned to collaborate with various project partners to develop a working system using design thinking and transmedia storytelling. My project team and I are collaborating with Circle of Blue, an online source that reports on global water issues, to build an engagement project that focuses on the value of water. This collaborative project experience has been challenging and a lot of fun.

LynchJared Lynch

Jared is from Columbia City, Indiana. He earned his undergrad degree in creative writing from Ball State, but his technology skills help land him a graduate assistantship with the Nursing SITC–essentially tech support for the School of Nursing. He also helps with simulations for undergrad students, meaning there’s a room set up like a hospital room, with a dummy on the bed. Jared’s in a control room, following along with the scenario the student is running through, changing the vital signs of the dummy, as well as occasionally providing the voice of the dummy. It’s a pretty interesting job, he says. This summer he plans to learn more about one of his passions: music software.


Why EMDD at Ball State?

I chose the EMDD program first and foremost because I’m interested in transmedia storytelling. I’m a writer and a storyteller, and I’m curious about the future of storytelling. Secondly, I was intrigued by the concept of design thinking, which I was introduced to during the information session I attended during my senior year. It frustrated me, but in a good way, and I wanted to learn more about it because I didn’t understand it.

How are you applying your skills in the program?

There is a great deal of writing involved in the creation and documentation of the experiences  we create, so I’ve definitely been able to apply my written communication skills at virtually all steps of the process. I’m also a creative person, and I feel like I bring a different perspective to our brainstorming sessions and the ideation part of the process.

How do you hope to apply what you’re learning in EMDD in your future career?

My main goal in this program is learning how to be an experience designer. I’m focusing on how to create these transmedia and interactive experiences because I want to create spaces where people can feel and fully experience stories in unique ways, and in ways that will stick with them and  be truly memorable.

What has been the most challenging part of the program/graduate school so far?

The beginning of the first semester was really brutal. I definitely floundered for a while and felt like I was drowning a bit. It was difficult because there weren’t many clear-cut, definite answers to things, at least in the sense that I was used to in class. Once I fully got into the mindset that I had to find the answers myself (and I also realized that everyone else felt as lost as I did) things improved. This semester is going to involve more work than the first, but I’m not nearly as anxious about it. I think the most challenging part was getting into the proper headspace, but I don’t think there’s an easy, straightforward way to do that. You just kind of have to push through until you get there, and things start to make sense.

How did you spend your winter break?

I spent my winter break working on a short story that I’ve been writing since April. Parts of this thing have truly been pulling teeth. I originally thought it was going to be around 1,500-2,000 words, but it just grew and grew. As it stands, it’s 7,100 words. I also finished an album that I began in 2012. I composed the bulk of it in January to April 2012, but since I had a demo version of the software, I was unable to export any of the songs. I got a temporary full version of the software, and I finally finished it. I felt really great about that because it’s just been simmering for all this time.

What has been your favorite grad school class so far? Why?

My favorite class that we’ve finished has definitely been transmedia storytelling. I loved how hands-on it was. As far as current classes goes, I really like our seminar class. It’s great to talk to people who are actually working in this field and making (or failing at) the type of experiences I want to make in the future.