Online Master of Music Student Working on Grad School Memories

Image is of featured student.

Middle school music teacher and Ball State graduate student Haley Muller uses the word “memories” so often you’d think she was about to retire.

During her sophomore year as a music education major at Millikin University in Decatur, Ill., she toured the U.S. and Spain with the Millikin University Choir.

“That is the absolute best performance memory I will likely ever have,” she says, explaining that three back-to-back years with the Choir was “her most prized memory.”

One of Her Favorite Memories

She conducted her first musical, Violet, during her senior year of college. “One of my favorite memories,” adds the choral and music director for Northview Middle School on the north side of Indianapolis.

Having performed in 22 community theatre productions since third grade and with such a full undergraduate experience, Haley wondered if graduate school, particularly online, could ever compare.

Although online students never need to come to campus, Haley’s teaching position had put her just an hour and minutes from Muncie, home to Ball State University. She decided to visit.

I knew that this is where I wanted to be pretty quickly,” she says. “Ball State impressed me immediately.

As did professor Don Ester, professor of music education and coordinator of the master’s in music with a concentration in music education.

“I Knew He Was A Sincere Educator”

“I knew that he was a sincere educator who wanted to genuinely impact current music educators,” says Haley. “His kindness and knowledge spoke volumes. He even let me sit in on one of his courses, which gave me insight to what classes would truly be like.”

Memories of her undergraduate faculty, who today treat her like a professional colleague, had set the bar high for graduate faculty.

What stands out about Ball State’s online classes are the amount of time the professors take to really engage students, give clear instructions, and most importantly, give strong feedback,” says Haley.

Faculty Encourage and Challenge

As a new music educator, she was worried whether she had the experience to do the program.

But Dr. Ester saw my strengths, praised my hard work, and encouraged me,” she says. “He encourages his students so efficiently while also challenging them. He always helps students to discover information on their own.

Likewise Dr. Kevin Gerrity associate director and coordinator of undergraduate music programs. “Dr. Gerrity has helped me a lot with research,” she says. “He is also great at being vulnerable and personable with his students.”

Now in her third semester, Haley is enthusiastic about her graduate school experience, even during the pandemic.

She’s Loved Conversations, Collaborations

“I’ve been able to have a lot of great conversations with other students in my classes about different ideas and possibilities during virtual and hybrid learning,” she says. “I have loved the collaboration!”

Haley also loves teaching in public schools. But her future might hold the possibility of a doctorate and teaching on a college campus.

I am enjoying what I learn every single day about myself and my teaching abilities. My professors and my courses have been an excellent fit for me,” she says. “I still feel welcomed and a part of the Ball State family from the comfort of my own home!

Meet Your Advisor: Ted Rankin

My academic journey has definitely taken some turns along the way. Originally graduating with a bachelor’s in biblical studies from Huntington University in 2013, I took a long break to go out and earn some work experience. This eventually led me to Ball State University, where I completed my master’s degree in student affairs administration in higher education in 2019. Since education is life-long, I enrolled in Ball State’s EdD in higher education last fall. With a target finish date around 2025, you can see that I’m in it for the long haul!

How Long I’ve Been With Ball State Online

I have been with Ball State Online as a student success specialist for a little more than a year. In my role, I advise for the entirely online undergraduate programs for those with last names A-K (except for one program). Here’s a list of all the programs I advise for:

  • Associate’s in general arts
  • Associate’s in criminal justice and criminology
  • Bachelor’s in applied behavior analysis (Only last names C-K)
  • Bachelors’ in business administration
  • Bachelor’s in criminal justice and criminology
  • Bachelor’s in early childhood education
  • Bachelor’s in general studies
  • Bachelor’s in logistics and supply chain management
  • Bachelor’s in nursing, RN to BS concentration


Why I Enjoy My Role

My desire to serve students as a student success specialist is to provide consistent support throughout their entire academic journey. Navigating an online education can be difficult, and many nuances can be tricky to work through on your own. To make my students’ experience better, I want to be someone who can be their “go-to person” and answer all their questions (in a perfect world) or can find those answers quickly. Eliminating any sort of barriers lets students know someone is on their side, that they are not just another number, and there’s always a person they can turn to when in doubt.

I stay in this role because I have experienced first-hand the tremendous impact of having someone genuinely in your corner—not just in the classroom, but in all aspects of student life—and it’s my hope to be that person for those I work with daily.

From my perspective, one of the most important things for online students to know is how to make a time management plan, and as a part of that, including time for yourself. Doing course work on top of other life responsibilities is challenging, and it can be draining. It asks you to pour your energy into a ton of different places. We often neglect to take care of ourselves during that process. I know we all have a lot of things to get done, and we only have so much time to do it, but if you are not well in your personal life, that will seep into all other areas of your life. There will be times when you’re trying to balance school and life that won’t necessarily feel like a party. But, just know that there is no need to feel shame in taking an evening to recoup and relax so you can come back stronger tomorrow.

A Few Fun Facts

Anyone who knows me personally long enough will quickly pick up that I’m fairly “nerdy.” My wife and I regularly play D&D with friends. I’m a big fan of collectible/trading card games. I currently own four different game systems, and Iron Man and Spider-Man are my favorite superheroes.

Beyond my personal hobbies, I am a husband, father of two young, strong-willed, independent children, and a dog dad to a pit bull rescue named Cisco (who we think might really be a cat on the inside). My favorite foods are breakfast and barbeque (the entire categories), and Sunshine Café in Muncie, Indiana is one of my favorite places to eat.

Want to get to know the rest of the Ball State Online advisors and student success specialists? Then remember to visit our blog, FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

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