Ball State Graduate School Blog

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A Day in the Life of Morgan Gross, a graduate student in English

Hi! I’m Morgan Gross, and I’m a grad student at Ball State. I’m in my third year of the rhetoric and composition Ph.D. program in the English department. For this “Day in the Life” series of blog posts, graduate students are supposed to give readers a glimpse into our typical day… sorry to disappoint, but my schedule doesn’t really do “typical.” I occupy the positions of student, teacher and administrator, so my day-to-day activities are a bit of a juggling act. Every day is different! But I kind of love that.

As a graduate student, I’ve completed my coursework and, as of last month, successfully passed my comprehensive exams (yay!). In the video below—thanks, Jacket Copy Creative!—you can see me reading in my office and in the library. That was in preparation to take my exams. Not captured in the video is me also reading at my favorite café downtown, at home (on my couch, at my desk, in bed), in line at the DMV, while driving in my car… just kidding about that last one. My point is studying for exams involved a lot of reading.

Currently, I’m working on writing my prospectus, which is getting me excited for the dissertation project itself! I’ll be conducting writing center research for it, and writing centers are my area of specialization and the main reason why I chose to come to Ball State for my Ph.D.

I take my graduate assistantship as seriously as I take my schoolwork as a student. That’s because it is helping me become a professional in my field. For the assistantship, I teach undergraduate courses in the English department, usually for the Writing Program, but last semester I also had the opportunity to teach Introduction to Digital Literacies (again, pictured in the video), which was really fun and interesting (robots + writing = YASS). Teaching is a big responsibility, and requires me to spend time designing curriculum, lesson planning, conferencing with students and grading their projects.

I also have the opportunity, as part of my assistantship, to do some administrative work for the Writing Program. This involves participating in various departmental committees, supporting other instructors in the Writing Program and planning and facilitating professional development events, maintaining the program’s digital and print presence, conducting institutional research and organizing the annual Essay Contest, to name a few of my duties.

Finding a balance between all of these various responsibilities and my personal life can be a challenge. Here are the things that I’ve found can help: a high quality agenda book, flexibility and a sense of humor when things don’t go as planned, good friends, regular exercise and a passion for my work. Oh yeah, and tea! (See video.)

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Music composition conference coming to Ball State

Hard work pays off as doctoral student composer cohosts national event

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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.