Representative Elizabeth Rowray graduated from Ball State University in 1996 with a degree and English-Preprofessional, and minors in History, Philosophy, and Humanities. In the following interview, learn why Elizabeth says she owes her success to her alma mater, the need for a good internship, and how Cardinal Pride can span a household.
How has Ball State prepared you for your role as a state representative and your new position as Muncie-Delaware County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO?
I owe my entire career to Ball State University and its participation in and support of the Indiana General Assembly’s internship program. Ball State has a long history of promoting the internship program. Therefore, many BSU students have participated in the phenomenal internship program at the Indiana General Assembly. I was blessed and honored to be selected as an intern for Senator Bob Garton, the longest-serving Senate President Pro Tempore in Indiana History. The year I served as an intern, Senator Garton presided over the Senate nearly every day. Therefore, I sat next to him on the Senate floor, affording me a tremendous opportunity to get to know most of the Senators very well. Immediately upon adjournment, I was recruited to work for an organization to lobby on behalf of the property-casualty insurance industry, which led to an opportunity to work for Congressman Mark Souder on Capitol Hill, which led to a position at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which led to many other options that helped position me to be in the here and now. All of the incredible opportunities I have been blessed with over the years are a direct result of that first internship at the Indiana State House that was (and is today) heavily promoted by the BSU Political Science Department.
Between you and your husband, your household is stocked with Cardinals! What does Ball State mean to you both?
My handsome Husband, Rick Rowray, and I are so proud of Ball State and its past accomplishments and current endeavors! We are the first to tell others what opportunities are available at BSU and how attending here can change your life. Ball State means opportunity, lifelong friendships, and familial connections to us. We recently talked up BSU at a volleyball tournament in Louisville with a stranger we met in the coffee line. It turns out their daughter has committed to BSU in 2023. When this year’s legislative interns were being introduced and honored on the House floor, there may or may not have been a quiet little “ChirpChirp” from the back emitting from a particular freshman legislator every time a BSU intern was announced.
How has Ball State prepared you for life after graduation?
Initially, the intent for my English-Preprofessional degree was to be utilized for law school. However, that BSU-Indiana General Assembly Internship altered my course as I fell in love with policy and ways to serve my community other than thru the law. BSU’s English degree helped me hone writing, communication, and organizational skills that can be used in every profession but are especially important in the Indiana General Assembly and Association management.
What advice do you have for students at Ball State who may wish to follow in your footsteps?
For those interested in the policy or political world, first and foremost, apply for the internship with the Indiana General Assembly! The experience leads to lifelong friendships and so so many opportunities! For those interested in Association Management or Chamber of Commerce experiences, apply for BSU’s MPA program and consider volunteering with or seeking an internship with a more prominent non-profit association where you can be exposed to all the intricacies of Non-profits. And for both of these positions, volunteer your time and talents in serving your community however you are able. Love of your community and your roles in life is key to your success.
If you could re-live one day from your Ball State experience, what would it be?
If I could re-live one day from my Ball State experience, it would be the day I spent the entire day at Bracken Library (one of my favorite places on campus) researching and writing a paper, then going to dinner with my best friend and then going to see a production of “Nunsense” at Emens (where tickets to phenomenal events were free to students) and where my future Handsome Husband was also in attendance.
Can you remember a class or an experience that changed your life?
The internship experience I’ve already discussed changed my life significantly. Another Ball State experience that has always stayed with me was a yoga class where the instructor emphasized students’ well-being as being as important in our lives as any class or grade.
What instructor made the most significant impact on you, and why?
Too many instructors helped mold my experience to count and name. Instead, can I share one of my favorite programs at Ball State? My favorite program at Ball State is the Guardian Scholars Program which provides support services for Ball State students who have experienced foster care. Bria Zolman is currently leading the program, and if you do not yet know about this vital program, I encourage you to learn about it and see how you can help serve the marginalized BSU students in our midst.
Why have you continued to maintain a relationship with your alma mater?
The relationship our family continues to maintain with Ball State is born out of our desire to serve, but in serving, we receive so so so much in return! We, of course, love cheering on our favorite teams to watch (football, volleyball, basketball). Still, we also have loved being a part of the Friendship Family program, where we have hosted international students at our home for over a year so they can experience American customs. We have also enjoyed speaking to Political Science classes, helping with the Business College for mock interviews, and talking to the Bowen Center. We are part of the Cardinal family, and the family takes care of one another.
What are your passions outside of work?
I love the adage, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” My passions are my faith, family, friends, and community. Outside of the paid work we do (and love), you will find Handsome Husband and me on the sidelines (or coaching) of a basketball court, volleyball court, softball field, baseball field, or academic competition of one of our three exceptional children or brushing our Golden Retriever, Max. #ChirpChirp
“Spotlight On:” is a story series produced by the Ball State University Foundation in which we discuss current events, University news, and the importance of philanthropy. To read past stories, click here.