Ball State graduates reflect on the end of their trips to Ball State

The end of the semester is synonymous with graduation, specifically the graduate’s ascent into professional life.

For graduates, however, this means completing an additional two years of schooling that takes their education to the next level. While graduate school can take many different paths, the result is often the same: a master’s degree.

Find your way

Malorie McLain once faced a difficult career decision.

McLain, a psychology student at Ball State, began her education at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York. When she finished her studies at Le Moyne and started looking for PhD programs, she applied to 14 universities and waited to make a decision on where to continue her education.

Ball State’s graduate program has overturned this decision.

McLain joined Ball State in the fall 2019 semester when she began her Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling. She is now completing her Masters and will continue her PhD in Counseling Psychology at Ball State.

McLain hopes to use her rehabilitation counseling training to help people with chronic illnesses and disabilities that she has retained from her time at Le Moyne. Before switching to psychology major, she studied nursing for two and a half years, so Ball State’s Masters program in rehabilitation counseling enabled her to continue that work.

“I still have that kind of medical focus in my background, but in a counseling setting, so I was really excited to be able to do that with a masters program,” said McLain.

During her nursing school, McLain realized that a more personal, time-consuming approach to patient care suited her best.

“When I was on clinical rotations in nursing school, my colleagues often had to take me out of patient rooms because I just had a chair by their bed and just talked to them about life,” she said.

Ball State, with a “humanistic approach” to her curriculum, enabled her to approach her future career in the way she had wanted from the beginning of her education.

McLain said she looks forward to graduation soon, even if graduation means more schooling for her in the Ball State PhD program. Avoiding burnout will be her biggest challenge for the next few years, which is true for many of her fellow students in her cohort, she said.

“It’s hard. It’s absolutely hard to be in school for so long and get burned out,” she said. “I know that’s what I’ve always wanted. I wanted to push myself to do something about that nobody in my family has ever thought – just reaching the highest level I can has always been a dream of mine. And I think it will. “

Abitur, the long way

25 years ago, Annie Joines Prentice thought her educational journey was over.

Joines Prentice, a Ball State graduate of Special Education, graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree. She taught in the Chapel Hill school system for several years before having children and becoming a mother who stayed at home for 19 years.

“As my children got older and I realized that they were going to become more independent, I realized that I had to think about what I would do with my future and I wanted to find a way to combine my teaching experience with the years of upbringing” , she said. “[I had] a child with severe mental illness and then a child with autism and [a master’s in] emotional and behavioral disorders seemed the perfect solution. “

Knowing that she wanted to do her Masters online, Joines Prentice began looking for programs. Ball State was recommended by the educational development organization Council for Exceptional Children, and they decided to apply. It turned out to be the right call, she said.

“What made me go back to school was that I was wondering, ‘What is this trip like for families who don’t have the resources our family has?'” Said Joines Prentice.

Along the way, Joines Prentice said that as someone who had not been to school since the 90s, she had to make adjustments, none of which were more important than her transition to online learning.

“As a student, I didn’t have my own computer, and I didn’t know anyone who had one,” she said. “There were computer labs on campus and it was a big deal to type your work on a Mac, proofread it, save it to a floppy disk, and then print it out and hand it in. I didn’t even know that Canvas existed. ” [at modern universities]. “

Despite the difficulty of learning online and the changes in her approach to her career, Joines Prentice is confident she will leave Ball State with everything she needs to succeed as a special education teacher.

“I have the tools to do exactly what I wanted to do,” she said. “So I learned how to combine these almost 20 years of parenting with teaching and research-based, evidence-based methods, and how to work with children with emotional and behavioral disorders. I am very confident that I will be teaching again. “

The right fit

For some students, teaching online is a big change. For Lauri Fellman’s master’s student in early childhood education, it was more of a place to stay.

Fellman, who has a partial hearing impairment, said completing graduate school online was made easier by the convenience of subtitles and the flexibility of self-directed learning.

Lauri Fellman, master’s student in early childhood education, is working on courses as part of her graduation in the fall semester 2021. Although she won’t be attending the induction ceremony, Fellman said she will celebrate her graduation at her Georgia home. Lauri Fellman, photo provided

“My hearing has deteriorated with age, and I think it was better not to be in an auditorium with 100 people trying to hear and take notes compared to [now], I can just do everything on the computer, ”Fellman said. “I miss the access to the teachers, the professors, as I did in the Bachelor … it is something to say when you see a professor in person instead of having to listen back to the e-mail.”

The former Kennesaw State University undergraduate graduate finished the last portion of her school years in 2008 before embarking on a Georgia career as an applied behavior analyst (ABA) for Georgia Babies can’t wait 2009-11 program, an early intervention program for babies and toddlers with special needs. She also worked as an ABA outside of the state program, which led her to a “peak” in her career.

“When I was working in early childhood education, I saw the need as the population grew and exploded and families asked, ‘Does my child have autism?’” Fellman said. “So I thought, ‘Maybe I have to come back in there,’ and I had an epiphany.”

This realization led her to Ball State, where she pursued her Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) certification along with her master’s degree.

A self-proclaimed perfectionist, Fellman started out from her Georgia home in the fall semester of 2019, attending virtual lectures. She said she wanted to do the best she could in her class and even went back to an ethics class, which she finished first at 87 percent, only to get 99 percent on the second try.

“I didn’t want to waste my time or money unless I was 100 percent sure I was passionate about it, and that’s how I finally found out that this is what I wanted to do. The circle has come full, ”she said.

Babies Can’t Wait hired Fellman because of her background in autism, she said, and she returned to the field helping people with disabilities.

While Fellman won’t be in Muncie for the fall 2021 opening ceremonies, he said she still plans to celebrate.

“I’ll do something at home – I’ve got my hat and dress,” she said.

Contact John Lynch with comments below [email protected] or on Twitter @WritesLynch.

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