‘88 Journalism alumna Chris Bavender started her Ball State journey with dreams of becoming a doctor. After her freshman year and a change in major, she pivoted into journalism. She now works as the FBI Public Affairs Officer of the Indianapolis Division. We sat down with her to discuss how her time at Ball State set her up for her success, and what happened after CCIM.
Writer: Ashley Curry, Department of Journalism Student • Interviewer: Any Ung, ’19 Telecommunications grad• Video: Ball State UMS
What kind of student were you at Ball State?
Determined. I was the first one in my family to go to college. I wanted to be a success in that way. I came to Ball State to be a doctor. Until the end of my freshman year, that was the course of study I was on until I ran into someone from high school. After we talked about my experience in biology and chemistry, he sent me down to Fort Knox with the ROTC cadets to cover a story there. That kind of changed my whole trajectory, and I decided to switch my major. Then I became more determined. I felt like I was playing catch-up for a year for my degree. I think we all go through those phases where you are on your own, so you are exploring. You might not be the best student, but I was still determined to graduate in four years to make my family proud.
What did your parents think about the shift from Pre-Med to Journalism?
I think it was a split. I’d always been determined that I was going to be a doctor since I was a small child. That is what I had expressed to them. They knew I was coming to Ball State for Pre-Med, but my grand scheme was to go to Duke or Stanford for medical school. Then when I switched to journalism, I think they weren’t too surprised because I had worked on the high school newspaper. I had always enjoyed that. They’ve always supported me.
What was your favorite place at Ball State?
The campus has changed so much since I was at school here. I would have to say my dorm, LaFollette. I was familiar with it. In high school, which was across the street, I was on the cross country team. Running through campus, we would stop by LaFollette for a snack on the way back. I hung out a lot there.
I enjoyed the Quad, as well. I worked in West Quad at the student paper, and a lot of my journalism classes were there. Having all that green space was just very peaceful. It was a good place to go sit outside and relax.
What was your best or worst memory at Ball State?
My worst memory was my photography class. The professor really put you to the test. I felt like I literally put my life on the line sometimes to get the shot he wanted. The one that would get me a good grade.
The best memories, though, are just the friends I made, the people I met and my professors.
If you were to meet your freshman self, what advice would you give her?
I was a very shy child, so I’d tell her to put herself out there more. Meet more people initially. Don’t hang out in my room, but I think part of that was the Pre-Med major. It wasn’t like journalism where you are a family. It wasn’t the same atmosphere. Also, just enjoy it. Mingle more, and relax. That it would all be okay.
What skills did the journalism program teach you that allowed you to be successful?
Hard work. It takes hard work to achieve what you want. I worked for the Daily News. I freelanced for the Muncie paper. It taught me that you can’t skate in life. If you want something, you have to put in the work behind it.