This month, a new meme flourished on social media. One that puts two pictures side by side with variations of the following caption, “Where It Started Vs. How It’s Going.” The first picture is meant to give a glimpse into its authors’ humble beginnings. In contrast, the ‘after’ shot shows what their current reality looks like. In this blog post, we curated 10 ‘Where It Started Vs. How It’s Going’ memes tweeted by our CCIM community and we asked their authors to share the backstory with us.

Wherever you are in your educational or professional journey, we hope that this post will inspire you to keep going. Because your hard work today is unlocking doors you cannot even see yet!

1. Paaige Turner, Dean of CCIM and Professor of Communication Studies

“In the first picture, I was a high school student getting ready for a debate tournament. Back then, I never imagined I would become the Dean of a college of communication. I was a first generation college student. When I made it to college, I lasted about a year and nine weeks. I did not know why I was there, I did not know how to ask for help or who to turn to to figure out what help was available to me. One day, on my way to a statistics test, I dropped out of college. I took me four years to get back. But eventually, I did go back and I now teach statistics. I kind of like the irony of that!”

2. Tyler Bradfield (Digital Sports Production ’16 and Digital Storytelling ’19), Owner of BH x Creative, LLC.

“From a blind email in 2011 to blinding stage lights a few years later, my journey (like many others’) has been far from typical. I entered Ball State thinking I would pursue a career in on-air sports broadcasting. Now, I’m a three-time Emmy Award winning producer running my own freelance production company. I’ll never forget a difficult meeting in Chris Taylor’s office in 2014 where he encouraged me to ‘add more tools to my tool box.’ That conversation uncovered a passion for creative storytelling sharing the stories of others to a screen.”

3. Brandon Pope (Telecommunications ’14), Reporter & Anchor at WCIU-TV and CW26 CHICAGO

“I made a lot of mistakes. But I always took feedback and did better. I had a lot of doors shut in my face. I broke them down when it was clear what I brought to the table couldn’t be ignored. It takes a tough skin and a “show and prove” mentality to make it in media. CCIM helped instill the hustle, heart and drive I needed to push through.”

4. Natalie Thomison (Communication Studies ’22)

“I found competitive speech during my junior year of high school when I needed it most. Little did I know, joining this activity would set me on a journey like none other. When it came to searching for colleges, I knew I was not ready to say goodbye to speech. Upon learning about Ball State University’s incredible CCIM and their nationally ranked speech team, I was sold. I quickly learned that not only was the Ball State Speech Team extremely successful competitively, it was a family bonded by their passion for advocacy and genuine love for one another. Collegiate speech is difficult. It challenges you to think differently and pushes you to your limits. However, I believe that a journey without difficulties is not one worth embarking on. I now serve as the president of the team and I am honored to represent one of the finest teams on the circuit. Thanks to the Ball State Speech Team, I have found my forever home.”

5. Alana Guidry (Telecommunications ’20), Video Artist, Activision

” There was a time I knew what I wanted to do, and then a time I didn’t. It took a lot of going back and forth to figure out where I was heading. At one point I realized that it was more important for me to find a job doing what I love than it was for me to do something I was familiar with. So I found what skills I would need to reach my goals, and did everything in my power to learn them. I still have a long way to go, but now that I know where I’m heading, every step since has been in the right direction.”

6. Grace Hollars (’19 Photojournalism), Visual Journalist, IndyStar

“I was lucky enough to discover my passion early on. Others, it will take a lifetime to find what sets their soul on fire. All I know is, if you are passionate or curious about something, you must follow it. Don’t give up on it.”

Note: To learn more about Grace’s story, read our alumni spotlight on her.

7. Seena Greiwe (Digital Sports Production ’21)

“I always say “you don’t have to be the most talented, you just have to work the hardest.” I believe that living this motto and believing it, has gotten me to where I am now. It isn’t always easy and surely isn’t the same journey for everyone but I trust that hard work pays off. I almost didn’t apply for the Bengals position originally because I didn’t think I was talented enough and I hadn’t even graduated yet. I took a leap of faith and applied and within a week, I was offered the position. Now I work for the league (NFL) and have the opportunity to travel to work 3 different NFL games this week. The little girl in the picture on the left would be proud of the women on the right for trusting her skills and always giving 110% to everything. I never expected any of this to happen so sudden in my career and I am not sure what lies ahead but I am grateful for my experiences thus far and encourage others in this field to work as hard as they can to put themselves in the best position possible to achieve success.”

8. Brittney Ermon (Telecommunications ’17, Journalism ’19), Bilingual Reporter, NBC 15 Madison

“In student media I was passed over for positions for years. I was told I should “try something else.” I used those experiences to fuel my fire and continue to work hard and persevere even though I felt the odds were against me. Don’t let others predict your future, work hard and create your own destiny.”

Note: To learn more about Brittney’s story, read our alumni spotlight on her.

9. Drew Bogs (Telecommunications ’14), Content Producer at Wayne 15 News

“Ball State Cardinals never quit. I’ve fallen many times in my career but I’ve always been able to pick myself up and keep moving forward. That’s what has made me so successful, the lessons my professors and fellow alums taught me.”

10. Ball State Sports Link

“The past eleven years, there were challenges but everything is an opportunity from my standpoint. Challenges at first were finding champions across campus and producing quality content. My philosophy has always been that the content speaks for itself. I’m grateful to President Mearns, Provost Mills, Dean Paaige Turner and TCOM Chair Mike Spillman for their commitment to our students and expanding our facility. I’m also very appreciative of our program’s alumni, who both while students and now as professionals, have championed our program and this expansion.” — Chris Taylor, Senior Director of Sports Production.

“One thing that I know about Chris Taylor is that he doubles down. He does not do anything half way. When this program was given one year to demonstrate that it could be successful in a very small classroom, he said, “I will make it happen.” That was eleven years ago and now we are a premier program in the nation.” — Paaige Turner, Dean of CCIM

Bonus: Charlie Cardinal, Mascot at Ball State University

“Chirp! Chirp!”

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