For the first time at Ball State, the Graduate School offers graduate students a holistic professional development program. Launched in August 2023, the Graduate Opportunity and Leadership Development Program (GOLD) aims to provide current and future Ball State graduate students with the community, resources, skills, and wellness strategies to maximize their educational experience.  

The program’s workshops are focused on key areas relevant to career advancement, communication skills, fostering inclusivity, research, teaching methods, and wellness.

GOLD program participants have access to valuable resources and opportunities through the GOLD Canvas Community page, which includes information about scholarships, grants, conference and publication opportunities, and campus resources. Upon completion of the program, GOLD participants receive a certificate—awarded at the Annual Graduate Student Recognition Ceremony in April—and a digital badge, suitable for sharing in a LinkedIn profile and digital signature. Additionally, GOLD participants have the chance to win a reMarkable tablet as a program incentive.  

Outside of the incentives offered, students join GOLD for a variety of reasons.  

Second-year Clinical Psychology Master’s student Rebecca Wood joined for a multitude of reasons.

“I joined GOLD because I wanted to be able to hold myself accountable for going to more graduate student events.
I’m also a first-generation student, and I know that sometimes I completely miss, or I don’t understand the academic jargon or processes,

A man stands beside presentation screen. The words 'thank you!' are in the center of the screen in black letters. Three people sit on a patterned chair to the right of the presenter.

Photo from GOLD workshop event on networking.

so having that support with GOLD is helpful,” Wood said.   

Educational Psychology Master’s student, Courtney Armacost, initially joined to find research opportunities. 

 “I was a research assistant while I was at Purdue Northwest, and I got a lot of good research opportunities through my mentor as her research assistant,” Armacost said. 

 Beyond research as her main reason for joining, Armacost also found the interactions she had to be beneficial.  

 “So, I’m newer to [the program], but being a distance learner, I really, really missed social interactions and feeling like I belong. I kind of feel like I’m outside of the box. But having that meeting and being a part of that has really helped me feel like I belong,” Armacost said.  

 Higher Education doctoral student, Kwame Nkrumah, also joined GOLD with research in mind.  

“I think what I’m more geared towards are ones about research and IRB.  I’m also geared towards ones about presenting because I’ll be doing a lot of presentations as a doctoral student, so it’s something I want to get myself equipped with,” Nkrumah said.

Nkrumah attended the IRB workshop to gain a deeper understanding of the IRB process.  

 “I think [the workshop] was very productive. I really liked the presentation. Not using a lot of, let me say, big words, simple words to explain it to us, and that was very, very productive. giving examples, making it very easy to understand. Going over the process and what you’re supposed to do and each step of the process,” Nkrumah said.”  

 Nkrumah encourages students to join GOLD for the benefits tied to enrollment.  

 “If you have the opportunity and you have the time, you should get yourself into GOLD. I think most people think it’s time-consuming because we are students, we have assignments, we have a lot of projects to do, but this is what, as graduate students, we need. So, therefore, I would just encourage everyone who has not yet joined GOLD to just get themselves enrolled,” Nkrumah said.  

 If interested, students can register through the enrollment form. Students can also learn more about upcoming workshops through the Graduate School’s EventBrite. All Ball State students, including undergraduate students, are welcome to participate in GOLD workshops. Email Dr. Robin Phelps-Ward, Associate Dean of the Graduate School at with questions.