Going back to school for her master’s in executive development and public service led Kristen Bitzegaio to the Back to School Teachers Store as the nonprofit’s new executive director.

“I believe that you shouldn’t invest your time in something that won’t excite you every day.”


Determined to find her perfect niche in the world, Kristen Bitzegaio
moved carefully toward a professional position after earning her master’s degree.

Kristen Bitzegaio

“I believe you shouldn’t invest your time in something that won’t excite you every single day,” she says.

That’s why Bitzegaio, who has a lifelong background and a passion in volunteering, believed that earning Ball State’s master of arts in executive development for public service would be essential in leading her to a fulfilling career.


“It was a huge decision to go back for my master’s,” she says.

She had been out of school for four years and was working part time. Her husband was working full-time and the couple had two children under the age of three.

Bitzegaio knew that taking on graduate work would mean cutting back on expenses while adding further commitments.

“We knew it would be worth the investment and time,” she says. Bitzegaio was also ready to take on new opportunities.


The flexibility of Ball State’s online program made it possible for her to tackle master’s work and motherhood simultaneously.

After finishing her degree in July 2014, Bitzegaio received a handful of job offers and opportunities, but she was still looking for her niche.

“I wasn’t dragging my feet, but holding out for the right fit,” she says.

Then she learned about an executive director’s position with Back to School Teachers Store, Inc., a non-profit organization in Muncie, Indiana, that provides free classroom resources to teachers in the community. It was just the kind of career fulfillment that Bitzegaio had envisioned.

“Classes that I took in my degree work included volunteer management and grant writing,” she says. “Those classes gave me some guiding principles that I could apply across all facets of fundraising and stewardship.”