Communications Studies graduate student Mylie Brennan has had quite the busy year. From her impressive list of scholarly accomplishments, it is apparent that “taking it easy” was not in her playbook. Her Master’s degree ended on a high note last week with exciting news. Mylie was one of three Ball State students selected to receive a prestigious Fulbright grant. We had a virtual chat with her to look back on the highlights of her time at Ball State, discuss the Fulbright application process, and her plans for the future.
The blog post is peppered with pictures of Mylie’s numerous trips to the UK—a place she loves and where she will soon return as a PhD student.
Can you share your best memories from your time at Ball State?
Getting to know the Comm Studies faculty is certainly a highlight! I received guidance and mentorship from all of my professors, which helped me be successful and enjoy my time at Ball State. Some of my favorite memories are going to different professor’s offices to discuss my work, share good news, or just chat.
The comradery of the Graduate Teaching Assistants is also something I will always remember. The graduate office, or Bullpen as we call it, is where I basically lived for the past two years! The Bullpen allowed all of us who were taking graduate courses and teaching Comm 210 to have a space to learn and grow together through some great times and some very challenging times.
Some of my favorite memories are from the classes I taught at Ball State. My students taught me a lot through their speeches and class discussions, and I really enjoyed being a part of their Ball State experience.
What was the biggest challenge you encountered?
Developing a work-life balance was certainly difficult! Graduate courses require a lot of time and mental energy, as does teaching. I also wrote a thesis, traveled internationally to collect data, went to conferences, published an article in a journal, applied to a PhD program, and applied for a Fulbright grant. However, I have a supportive family and a supportive faculty, and they all helped me find time for fun and relaxing activities as well!
Who was part of your support group within the Dept. of Communication Studies?
Dr. Marcy Myer and Dr. Laura O’Hara were both on my thesis committee and wrote letters of recommendation for the Fulbright grant. They were such wonderful mentors and supporters, and I spent hours in both of their offices – sometimes for guidance and sometimes just to chat.
I was an Assistant Basic Course Director for Dr. Kathy Denker, which means that I helped her organize and run Comm 210 and she helped me put out all of the little fires that come up when you teach a basic course. Dr. Denker also pushed me to submit papers to conferences, which opened up a new world of academia to me that I love!
Dr. Glen Stamp, Dr. Carrie Shue, Dr. Kristen McCauliff, and Michael Storr were also so supportive, and they each shaped my graduate experience in an important way. I could write for pages, but I’ll just say that I absolutely adore the Comm Studies faculty!
“Mylie’s thesis applied extended narrative empathy theory to analyze the ways in which women in Northern Ireland make sense of the peace process and Brexit. Having served on dozens of master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation committees, I would rank her research and writing skills at the level of a PhD student, rather than a master’s student. In recognition of her extraordinary research skills, she was recently recognized as the Outstanding Researcher in the Department of Communication Studies. She is also an exceptionally hard worker, and an absolutely delightful person. It was truly an honor and a privilege to serve as her advisor.”
—Marcy Meyer, Professor of Communication Studies
Last week you were selected as one of three Ball State students for a 2019-2020 Fulbright grant. Can you tell us more about the grant you received?
I applied for a research student grant to Queen’s University Belfast that is centered in the Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security, and Justice. It is a 3-year grant that will fund my doctorate education in Northern Ireland.
What was your reaction when you heard the news?
The email that the Fulbright commission sent was extremely long, but the first line was, “Congratulations! You have been selected…” and I immediately stopped reading and yelled for my husband to come read the rest because I was too excited! I couldn’t sit still, and I started calling all of my family members while pacing the entire house!
Can you walk us through what the application process was like for you?
I began discussing my desire to go to Queen’s in Belfast for my doctorate with Barb Stedman (Honors College) in April of 2019. She encouraged me to apply, so I worked all summer on the application, and I submitted it to Ball State in September. I then had an interview with faculty and community members at Ball State, which allowed me receive feedback on my application and my proposed project. I then submitted my application to the Fulbright commission in October. It wasn’t until January 2020 that I received confirmation that I was a semi-finalist, and I then had a Zoom interview with the UK Fulbright commission in March. I finally got the results in April 2020. All said and done, it was a year-long process!
Do you have any tips for future Fulbright applicants?
First, if you’re considering applying for the Fulbright at all, talk to Barb Stedman! She was an amazing resource for me, and she has guided applicants through the Fulbright process for years. Both she and Dom Caristi (Professor of Telecommunications) worked tirelessly to make sure all of my questions were answered and that I was prepared for every step of the process.
Also ask professors and advisors to edit your work as much as possible. I received a lot of support and feedback that allowed me to write clearly and concisely, which is important when you only have one or two pages.
Finally, be genuine. If you care about your proposed program and destination country, let that guide your application and interview. I received feedback from my mock interviewers that my love for the project itself was evident, which really helped them feel confident that I would complete the project if they were to fund me.
You are graduating from your Master’s degree very soon. What’s next for you?
This fall I will be starting my PhD program at Queen’s University Belfast, provided the global pandemic allows us to travel internationally! I will be studying International Relations, and my project will focus on political identity and peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.
Any final thought?
I am so grateful that I decided to do my master’s at Ball State, particularly in CCIM. I’ve been continuously impressed with the academic rigor of our college, and I know that a huge part of my success as a Fulbright grantee is due to the excellence of our program.
Want to learn more about the Fulbright US Student Program? Contact Barb Stedman, Director of National and International Scolarship and Honors Fellow at Ball State, or go to https://us.fulbrightonline.org/