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!
Andrea McDermott, nominee for Ball State’s 2021 Graduate Assistant of the Year Award
For the 2020-2021 academic year, Andrea served as a GA to support the Office of Governmental Relations, where she worked on communications and ways to expand the participation of Ball State students in various government internships programs. She was nominated by Becca Polcz Rice, Vice President for Governmental Relations, who said this about Andrea: “She worked closely with faculty, students, and the General Assembly staff to identify new ways to reach students to inform them of the opportunities, including leveraging technology to facilitate virtual class visits and hosting a virtual Q&A session for interested students with Ball State alums who served as General Assembly interns. She received rave reviews from our partners in the General Assembly, who find her to be highly responsive, flexible, and accommodating.”
Q & A with Andrea
What was the most valuable part of your assistantship experience?
My graduate assistantship with the Office of Governmental Relations has been the cornerstone of my experience as a student. Not only has the opportunity provided me with valuable hands-on experience, but it also allowed me to expand my network, give me insight into what it takes to become a successful professional, and the opportunity to learn from and work with a host of people from all different backgrounds.
How do you think your GA assignment has helped you to grow as a professional and a student?
As a student, having the opportunity to follow the last three Indiana legislative sessions has been one of the most enriching learning experiences I’ve had. I have seen the legislative process from start to finish in both budget and non-budget years. I’ve learned the complexity of government and watched how our elected officials make important decisions. I’ve helped track bills that impact my peers and me as students and gotten an inside look at how our university operates and all the hard work that goes into making Ball State successful. These immersive learning experiences have been fun, too. There has never been a dull moment and always new things to explore.
Professionally, my assistantship allowed me to foster connections with individuals from around the state, something that will benefit me throughout my career. The opportunity to try new things, take the lead on projects, and have a say in the process has given me a new level of confidence that I can succeed as a working professional. I would like to work in public service, and with my role in governmental relations, I’ve been able to explore different sectors and learn directly from professionals in those fields. This has helped me decide on future career paths and potential options that I otherwise would not have.
Is there anything you would like to communicate about your experience as a GA?
My graduate assistantship has opened many doors for me and introduced me to ideas and opportunities that I never considered before. As a first-generation college student, it can be tough to find the supports you need to succeed. My supervisors, Rebecca Rice and Sam Snideman, make sure I am supported in every way throughout my assistantship, something I never take for granted. Being given the opportunity to learn in such a hands-on way, introducing me to professionals across the state, and pushing me to be the best I can be, has equipped me to succeed professionally. Finally, I’ve been showered with kindness, encouragement, and wisdom that I will forever be thankful for. I would encourage all students to secure an assistantship to enrich their learning and open doors to possibilities never even imagined.