‘14 Communication Studies Alumna Sara McInerney has always chased her passions above all else. From involvement in multiple organizations and working odd jobs around campus to welcoming high schoolers as a tour guide, McInerney has inspired many along the way. She is currently the Manager of the Finish Line Youth Foundation at the Indianapolis headquarters. We sat down with her to learn more about her journey as a Cardinal and how she landed her dream job after CCIM.

Writer: Caitlen Ramey, Department of Journalism Student • Interviewer: Any Ung, ’19 Telecommunications grad • Video: Ball State UMS 


What type of student were you? 

Throughout my time at Ball State, I really noticed myself grow. I came in as a shy freshman who had no idea what she was doing to a confident senior that was prepared for anything that came her way. I was on the soccer team my freshman year but decided that wasn’t for me so I resigned and joined organizations on campus instead. I did everything from Cardinal Communications and Homecoming committee to interning for the Office of Admissions and serving as a tour guide and orientation leader. I feel really fortunate that I had a really great Cardinal family here at Ball State; they were the ones that really pushed me to get better and my four years would not have been the same without them.

CCIM provides endless opportunities, so I made the plan to squeeze every opportunity out of this school before I graduated.

What is your favorite place on campus?

I would say that I spent the most time in the Letterman Building and the Atrium, I walked that second floor a lot. I loved the Atrium because I think it is one of the easiest places to meet up with friends and grab something to eat so I have a lot of great memories with them. I also really loved the David Letterman building since it was where I spent the most time academically. I can remember walking into class with friends, working on a group project, getting to know my professors in their offices or even taking those last few moments before class to send a text.

Do you have a worst memory from your time at Ball State? 

I think the universe works in great ways so this actually turned out to be good for me in the long run but at the time not so much. When I was on the soccer team, I thought I was doing it because I thought I was supposed to be, not because I loved it like I once did. I can remember waking up in my Lafollette dorm room and dragging my feet to the soccer field, I was cold and it was the last thing I wanted to do. I once loved this sport but it was just not for me so I ended up resigning.I filled my freetime with a job at Woodworth as a dishwasher as well as look into what student organizations really caught my eye. 

Looking back, this was probably one of the better decisions I made to positively impact my time at Ball State.

What is one of your best experiences you had?

The best experience I had at Ball State was being an orientation leader. I did this the summer after my freshman year and right off the bat it was a wild experience. I actually didn’t get the job but I went back for an informational interview to learn what I could do to improve. In my heart I knew that this is something I really wanted to do and in the interview I received a lot of constructive criticism which I needed to hear. At the end of the interview, they told me that a female leader had resigned so they offered me the position and I took it. It was a crazy ride just to get to the job but once orientation was underway, it really taught me so much about myself. I worked with so many top notch leaders from diverse backgrounds so it really did open my eyes to the possibilities. I knew that from this experience, I wanted to help people but not in the typical medical field sort of way. I really found that communication was my passion and what I wanted to do.

No matter what I do in life, I’m going to do something to help people.

Are there any faculty members that made a lasting impact on you?

I had many great people around campus pushing me to do better and to take that next step and of course that was professors included. Dr. Laura O’Hara is such a great professor, she is always there for you but also expects you to get your work done. She pushes you when you need it and is such a great teacher. Dr. Lori Byers is also someone I really connected with. Our relationship has really grown since I have graduated. Dr. Byers was the ultimate queen of CCIM and she really helped me when it came to choosing my post-grad plans with Finish Line. One last professor that really impacted my time at Ball State was Ashley Coker. I adored Ashley’s communication courses because she really challenged us. She would come in and give us 30 seconds to prepare on a topic we have never heard of or switch up our powerpoint slides before a presentation; so she really pushed me out of my comfort zone. She is a great balance of someone that will take you to the next level but also give you a ladder to help you get there.

If you could go back and talk to your freshman self, what would you tell her?

I would tell her that it is okay to explore. I’m a very Type-A personality who always needs to know what the plan is but as we have already talked about my freshman year was anything but that. When soccer ended, I know how nervous I was with not knowing the plan but what happened after was incredible. I would go back and tell her to follow her gut and to do more of what makes her happy. 


Interested to learn more about Sara and her job at the Finish Line Youth Foundation? Check out this story from Ball State Magazine

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