Amani Burton working the t-shirt cannon at a Ball State football game

This year, we are highlighting all of the great work that our graduate assistants perform around our campus by featuring the nominees for the 2021 Graduate Assistant of the Year Award.  This award is coordinated by the Career Center, which works with the Graduate School to pick the winner of the award.  We were so impressed by all of the nominees that we are going to feature them on our blog.  Congratulations to all of the nominees!

Amani Burton, nominee for Ball State’s 2021 Graduate Assistant of the Year Award

For the 2020-21 academic year, Amani worked as a GA to support the athletic department, where he served in the athletics marketing and fan engagement office.  He was nominated by Shawn Sullivan, the Associate Athletics Director of Marketing and Fan Engagement, who wrote that Amani “provided a social justice perspective needed for our group, reminding all of us to value the intrinsic worth of our campus and community. Amani created remote activities for kids, performed as Charlie Cardinal on Zoom calls – including bringing the suit with him back home to Las Vegas to assist from afar – provided professional development opportunities for undergraduate students and has supported all of our teams since the return to campus this past fall.”  Amani graduated in spring 2021.  He now works full-time for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Here is a Q & A with Amani

What was the most valuable part of your assistantship experience?

The most valuable part of my assistantship has been the exposure of working in an athletic department and playing a significant role in ensuring our student-athletes have the best experience while continuing their education at Ball State and making sure our stakeholders are satisfied with the programs we put on for the community.

How do you think your GA assignment has helped you to grow as a professional and a student?

My graduate assistantship helped me mature and gain a better understanding of how to handle the work/life management dilemma that I will face during my career and gain a sense of professionalism of working in an office environment. This is my first-time balancing schoolwork with work-related responsibilities, and I will admit, it was hard at first, but it has strengthened my ability to multitask and efficiently handle multiple tasks at once. Additionally, this graduate assistantship helped me develop professionally by learning the mannerisms of working in an office environment. As someone who never had their own desk, planned business meetings, or collaborated with other departments to achieve a goal, this was the best way to introduce me to what the future holds for me working in the sports  industry.

Is there anything else you would like to communicate about your experience as a GA?

I am very fortunate to have continued my education at Ball State as the Marketing and Fan Engagement Graduate Assistant for Ball State Athletics. From experiencing the hardships endured due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to playing an integral role in the filming of Ball State’s episode of ESPN+’s show, Peyton’s Places¸ I will never forget the memories made here at Ball State, and I cannot imagine beginning my career anywhere else, especially with the amount of wonderful people I’ve met along the way. I wouldn’t trade my friends and mentors for anyone else in the world, and they have been a great influence for my career and my life in general.