Ellie is a first-year master’s student in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program and a graduate assistant for the Graduate School’s GSWI program.
Q: What’s your hometown?
A: Greenwood, IN
Q: What degree program are you currently pursuing and why?
A: I’m in the MA Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program and then will eventually continue into the Counseling Psychology PhD program because I’m on the BA to PhD track. I became interested in this area because my family does foster care, and I’ve seen the impact of trauma on the kids that have come into our care. That experience sparked my interest in mental health and resilience, and now I’m interested in the counseling profession as well as the research side of improving practice and helping people build resilience after adversity.
Q: What year are you in your program?
A: I’m just starting it this fall. So, I’m brand new!
Q: In what field did you earn your bachelor’s degree?
A: I completed a dual program at Taylor University with a Psychology major and a second major called “Orphans and Vulnerable Children.” This program covered topics like anti-trafficking efforts and trauma-informed care, blending aspects of social work, public health, and psychology.
Q: So then, how did you make it to Ball State?
A: I applied to several counseling and clinical psych programs all over the country, and I ended up deciding that I really liked the culture and learning opportunities in Ball State’s program. The people I met in the program were super friendly, and I was really impressed by the training model here. I’m working with Dr. Kristin Perrone as my advisor, and she was super welcoming, and I think her neuroscience research is really interesting. So that mentorship fit was a big draw for me too. Also, the location is nice because I’m within a couple of hours of my whole family.
Q: You mentioned that Dr. Perrone’s research interests you. Is there a type of research that you would like to do later on in your studies?
A: So, Dr. Perrone does EEG/ERP research, which applies neuroscience to counseling, mental health, and other areas of psychology. I’m not sure of the specific topic I want to research yet, but I’m exploring a focus on trauma, resilience, and overcoming adversity. It’s broad for now, as I’m still figuring out my specific interests.
Q: Given your focus on trauma and resilience, is there a specific aspect you aim to incorporate into your work with GSWI?
A: I’ve realized how important self-care is for all people’s resilience, but especially for people in helping roles. As I’ve watched my parents be foster parents, I’ve seen the toll that built-up stress can take. This has helped me understand that no one can pour from an empty cup, and it’s crucial to find ways to reduce stress and lighten the load if we want to build resilience. So, I think finding those same sorts of resources to help graduate students will be a really cool opportunity while I’m working with GSWI.
Q: Are there any ways that you balance both academic commitments and personal life, like maybe in your undergrad specifically?
A: A big part for me has been surrounding myself with people who recharge me. This year, I’m living with three of my friends from undergrad, and having that support is so helpful as I’m starting this new program. I also try to set limits on daily work to separate it from my personal life. As a grad student, there will always be work to do, but knowing my limits is important. I also try to invest time in hobbies that calm me and bring me joy.
Q: What hobbies do you partake in?
A: I love being outside and being active! In undergrad, I started doing a lot of yoga and Pilates as a way to relax and take care of myself. I’ve also always loved music! I grew up in choir and still try to incorporate music into my life as much as possible. I have done a lot of volunteering with my church in the past, and I plan to continue that as much as possible during grad school. Mostly, I want to prioritize spending time with the people I love.
Q: Are there any careers that you kind of want to pursue after your PhD?
A: Currently, I’m leaning toward the clinical practice side of the counseling profession. I’ve thought about going into private practice or working as a counselor for a larger organization. I’ve always been interested in working with children, but I’m keeping an open mind to all the different populations that I can work with. I’m also interested in getting some teaching experience to see if I’d someday like to use my degree in that way.
Q: Is there anything that you’re particularly looking forward to relating to your GAship?
A: I’m looking forward to the opportunity to interact with a lot more people during grad school, not just those within my program. I think this will be a great way to get to know people and to familiarize myself with the needs of Ball State’s grad student population. I’m also looking forward to our GSWI events, and I’m excited to be a part of promoting wellness for grad students!
Q: What advice would you give students you know, considering pursuing a graduate degree in your field?
A: I’m just starting out and still have a lot to learn, but I think a big piece of advice is to come in with an open mind. To get into a program like this, you need to have a pretty clear idea of what you want to do, but once you’re in, there are going to be so many career paths and research opportunities that might interest you. So, I would tell people to just come in with an open mind and realize that your plans are likely to change. You might end up liking something that’s a little bit different than what you planned on, and that’s part of the beauty of learning. I’m excited to see where I end up in a few years!