Angela Bricker: “Still in Awe of the Differences ABA Can Make”

Angela Bricker with two children, looking at photos together

In her first year as an elementary teacher, Angela Bricker (BCBA-D), was surprised that so many of her young students were diagnosed with autism.

So she joined an applied behavior analysis center to learn ABA principles and techniques. While at the ABA center she began taking evening classes to learn more about ABA, while using the principles with clients during the day.

“I started working in the ABA field due to my interest in helping students that I didn’t think were getting what they truly needed in the general education classroom,” says Angela, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctorate (BCBA-D) and Ball State assistant teaching professor of special education.

Has Love for the Science

“I fell in love with the science of ABA,” says Angela, who completed Ball State’s MA in special education in 2008. “I have now been in the field for over 25 years, and I am still in awe of the differences ABA can make in the lives of others.”

During her 25-year career, she has worked in clinical, home, educational, and residential settings, and has established multiple school-based programs for children with autism.

She began teaching in the Ball State master’s in ABA with an emphasis in autism program in 2009, and today she teaches and mentors adjunct faculty as a content specialist.

ABA Master’s is Largest in the Nation

Ball State was the first university in the state to offer such a master’s program. The master’s in ABA with an emphasis in autism has grown to be the largest in the nation.

Angela thinks she knows why.

“Reputation! Students who enjoy the program and become successful share their experience with others,” she says. “We truly have an amazing set of courses, and they are set up to help students with lots of different backgrounds.”

Program Gives Students World Perspective

The master’s in ABA with an emphasis in autism enrolls students worldwide, which only broadens the classroom perspective.

“Sometimes I will have a zoom meeting with a student at 8 a.m. Eastern Standard Time,” says Angela, “and then another at 11 p.m. Eastern Standard Time in order to accommodate students from around the globe.”

One uniqueness of the program is having students collaborate with international peers on class projects.

“Having the ability to collaborate this way is so important within ABA, and I think most students find this to be a positive experience,” says Angela. “It allows them to become more comfortable with different formats of technology for communication.”

On the Forefront of Training Professionals

Another advantage is its history. The department has been on the forefront of training professionals to help special populations with best-practice methods for decades.

After teaching in the ABA program for more than a decade, she believes her faculty colleagues are passionate about the science for the benefit of students.

“As a department we have biweekly meetings to stay in touch and brainstorm ways to keep the program successful,” says Angela. “Each course is also set up with a content specialist who will reach out to all instructors teaching that specific course several times throughout the semester.”

If you have ever watched what ABA can do, she says, then “you would understand the thirst we have for more knowledge in this field.”

Leitze: Students Need Faculty Relationships to Make a Connection

For just one student in North Dakota, Ann Leitze, professor of mathematical sciences and graduate advisor, began teaching online.

In the fall of 2009, she chose to admit the student and teach in a hybrid format, virtually to her online student and face-to-face to main-campus students. Her goal was to grow the online MA in mathematics education. Today, she routinely has 85-90 students enrolled online each semester in the MA’s three concentrations, two graduate certificates, and another MA.

“Without a relationship with the professor and classmates, many [students] do not feel comfortable reaching out to the professor—or classmates—for help.”

Led by Lifelong Love of Learning

“Having online math programs available is absolutely necessary for Indiana math educators to pursue graduate study,” Ann says, noting that a “lifelong love of learning” drew her to graduate study and eventually teaching at the university level.

She says about 50 percent of her graduate students are Indiana teachers. “For many years, Indiana teachers pursuing graduate study were few and far between,” she recalls. Although she sees progress, she thinks a need remains for teachers with advanced degrees.

Ann is proud of the success in growing Ball State’s graduate math education program, which offers concentrations for elementary and middle school mathematics teachers, secondary school teachers, and elementary or middle school mathematics education specialists as well as the master’s in foundational mathematics teaching in the community college.

License for Specialists Approved

She’s happy to report that the third concentration, for elementary or middle school mathematics education specialists, was recently approved by the State of Indiana as the only program in the state leading to a new Indiana license for elementary mathematics specialists.

As graduate advisor for math education, she wants online students to know that professors support them.

Says Relationships Required

“Without a relationship with the professor and classmates, many of them do not feel comfortable reaching out to the professor—or classmates—for help,” she says.

Ann says she sets high standards for her students.

“I challenge them to perform to their full capacity,” she says. “I want my students not only to have an understanding of mathematics at the appropriate level, but also to have familiarity with appropriate models and methods for teaching mathematics.”

Believes Her Role is Mentoring, Modeling

She believes her primary professional role includes both mentoring and modeling.

“I push myself to model best teaching practices for both students and junior faculty,” she says.

Earlier in her Ball State career, Ann led the Elementary Urban Semester, working with K-12 teachers in underprivileged schools. Designed to integrate science and mathematics at the elementary school and university levels, the program received the 2002 School Science and Mathematics Association Award for Excellence in Integrating Science and Mathematics and the 2004 American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education Best Practice Award in Support of Diversity.

Friesen’s Passion is Helping Others Make Healthier Food Choices

Change is coming to the field of nutrition and dietetics and professor Carol Friesen is ready for it.

Graduate program director for Ball State Online’s master of science in nutrition and dietetics, Carol anticipates an increase in enrollment since the Commission on Dietetic Registration has raised the minimum education required for prospective Registered Dietitians. Beginning in 2024, students will have to hold a graduate degree to sit for the national registration examination.

“We have developed a flexible online master’s degree for current dietitians who want to complete a degree while working,” says Carol, referring to the accrediting agency Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics.

Inspired by a Teacher’s Suggestion

Carol, who has taught at Ball State since 1996, says she decided to become a dietitian in high school at the suggestion of a teacher.

“My passion has always been to help people from all walks of life learn how to make healthier food choices for themselves and their families,” she says.

Since choosing a career in higher education, she has published 39 articles, presented more than 90 peer-reviewed research posters, given 46 oral presentations, written chapters to nine books, and received 38 grants funded totaling $2.26 million.

Research Focuses on Nutrition Education

Most of her research has focused on nutrition education projects that seek to reduce childhood obesity, with a special interest in early childhood education; increase mothers’ breastfeeding incidence and duration; help families prepare and serve healthy, low-cost meals; and improve the nutrient intake and nutrition knowledge of individuals for use in schools, at home, and the workplace.

“Our graduate faculty are all engaged in research, putting them on the cutting edge of knowledge in their specific domains,” says Carol. “Each of us take pains to provide individualized feedback to help each student become better tomorrow than they were yesterday.”

Carol says her online colleagues are keenly aware they are teaching working adults.

Profs Prepared for Evening Emails

“Our faculty are great about keeping an eye on emails in the evening and on weekends when non-traditional students squeeze in their studies,” she says. “Let’s face it, the chances are pretty good that you are going to have a question outside the time frame of 8-5 Monday through Friday.”

Until recently, the graduate nutrition and dietetics program was only offered on campus.

When classes were moved online, says Carol, the student demand for the program “skyrocketed.” The recent implementation of the “Prior Learning Policy,” where current dietitians can earn up to nine graduate credits, if they did not receive graduate credit for their supervised practice, is also helping make graduate school more attainable and achievable for our adult students.

More Students Fulfill Goal Online

“While I truly miss interacting with our students in a classroom setting, knowing the flexibility of online education helps more students fulfill their goal of obtaining a master’s degree and advance in their career as a registered dietitian nutritionist more than makes up for missing that ‘in class’ vibe,” she says.

Although Ball State’s program provides an ideal opportunity for RDNs, Carol says she worries about current dietitians who have not earned their master’s degree.

“Ultimately the job market may not be kind to registered dietitian-nutritionists who do not have a graduate degree,” she says. “I hope our online program will provide the flexibility current dietitians need to achieve their degree.”

Online Master of Music Student Working on Grad School Memories

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!

A Day in the Life: CTE Student Balances Teaching and Weathercasting Careers

Because Bryan Schuerman has two careers to maintain and because he’s a full-time student in the Ball State Online master’s in career and technical education, his feet hit the floor squarely each morning at 2 a.m.

From 2:30 a.m. until 12 noon, he works as weekday morning and mid-day meteorologist for WICS ABC News Channel 20 and WRSP FOX Illinois in Springfield, Illinois, prepping his forecasts and taping cut-ins for Good Morning America. He goes live from 5 to 7 a.m. on ABC and 7 to 8 a.m. on FOX. He also fills in as lifestyle anchor and producer.

His work has earned the coveted National Weather Association Weathercaster Seal of Approval.

Then He Heads to Class

From the studio, Bryan heads to his second career as a family and consumer science teacher at a nearby high school, where he teaches nutrition and culinary arts classes from 12 to 3:30 p.m.

For professionals like myself who are juggling not one, but two careers, I can fit in the time to make a degree happen at my pace,” he says, of the CTE program offered fully online.

“After I got my teacher’s license and graduated with my master of education degree, I always kept an eye out for any family and consumer science teacher postings,” says Bryan.

Among multiple areas, Bryan is certified to teach middle school science for grades 5-9, journalism, radio and TV broadcasting for grades 9-12, and family and consumer sciences 5-12.

CTE Program is Filling in the Blanks

He says the family and consumer sciences license provided just a “snippet” of what is needed to teach family and consumer sciences.

This program is helping me ‘fill in the blanks’ that I did not get specifically from family and consumer sciences to make me a more, well-rounded teacher,” says Bryan, who is pursuing the family and consumer sciences concentration.

Ball State’s program is ideal, he says, for people who want “the basics of how to administer a CTE program, as well as instructional strategies to make us better educators in the classroom.”

“CTE Encompasses Many Careers”

He’s also learning how comprehensive the CTE field can be.

I have interacted and shared learning experiences with students who are teaching dental assistant classes, audiology classes and more,” says Bryan. “While the course work we are learning in this program is broad enough to encompass all types of career and technical education, the professors let us take that knowledge and apply it to what we are individually teaching.

The pandemic has been a factor, he says. Through online forums, his classmates are sharing their experiences of teaching career and technical education courses remotely for the first time.

“We all know, we are ‘writing the playbook’ for remote learning right now,” says Bryan. “So listening to ideas from other classmates and bouncing my experiences off them has been a very pleasant experience.”

First Graduate of Sustainability Certificate, Roberto Fayad, Imagines the Impossible

Like many students, Roberto Fayad pursued the online graduate certificate in sustainability to launch his professional career and because of his passion for the principles of sustainability.

But unlike many others, he accomplished this while working on his bachelor’s in architecture.

Completing his certificate in 2020 earned him the proud distinction of being the first official alumnus of a program based on examining how current world needs can be met without compromising the resources needed by future populations.

Says Systematic Balance is Key

Roberto says it’s all about considering the interaction of economic, social, and environmental factors to achieve a systematic balance.

“With this certification, I am better equipped for my field,” says Roberto, who is now based in Chicago. “I hope firms that want to progress their architecture/design towards the future can see how sustainability is now a very important consideration.”

The 12-credit graduate certificate offers three focus areas, including environmental, social, and economic sustainability.

He Sees Return of Nature to Cities

“I strive to learn the true balance of nature and how an optimal functioning future could work, in terms of design overall,” says Roberto, who followed the environmental focus area. “I like to think of the bigger picture. I have a new and growing passion for urban design and sustainable cities, and I see the return of nature into the city in creating a new urban scape.”

For his bachelor’s thesis, entitled The Self-Sustaining City, he designed a mixed-use high-rise in the Lincoln Yards development in Chicago, Illinois. The thesis “explored the design of self-sufficient eco-blocks as an approach for cities to reduce the energy and resource footprint with the urban landscape.”

“Future is in Adaptable Designs”

“As our future depends on the existence of this planet, we designers and architects must strive to make our designs more adaptable and caring towards our planet, the people, and its economy,” says Roberto. “I firmly believe that the future of my field is in producing more mixed-use options, especially in an urban environment.”

He believes the program gave him “a greater knowledge and appreciation of how our world works and how there seems to be a balance that we must seek in terms of a sustainable future.”

Roberto particularly appreciated courses in ecological systems, material resources and waste, food systems, and energy resources.

Sustainability Courses Run for Five Weeks

Unlike many courses, graduate certificate courses in sustainability run for five weeks and provide one credit per course.

“Although the classes were only one credit, the work load was close to a normal three-credit elective course one would take on campus,” says Roberto, who finished the certificate in just three semesters.

“These courses have helped open my eyes to precedents in each field, their progression towards reducing waste and becoming more renewable to benefit the natural systems of this planet,” he says.

Roberto admits to being a dreamer.

He Imagines the Impossible

“My imagination always loves to wander, to imagine the ‘impossible.’ I look up to many famous designers/architects across the globe and hope that one day, I can be amongst the list of great designers in this world,” he says.

Not that he’s seeking a lifestyle of power and riches.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without my faith in God, my mentors, and my family and friends,” he says. “I hope that one day, I can look back and say that a program like this is what started it all and how it has not only made an impact on my own life, but the life of others as well as the planet.”

Impressed by CTE Programs, HVAC-R Professional Steps on to Community College Track

While growing up in North Carolina, Bruce Perry spent hours hanging out with his Uncle Willie Parker Jr., repairing tractors, lawn mowers, and various other vehicles. It might have seemed like normal boyhood fun to Bruce, but as the Ball State graduate student now understands, he was doing some serious job shadowing with his late uncle.

“His mentorship, abilities, education, skill, wisdom, knowledge, and understanding influenced me greatly,” recalls Bruce, of Uncle Willie’s career influence.

Bruce had the opportunity to perform multiple building trades and construction under the watchful eyes of this family mentor.

Today Bruce is an HVAC-R Service Technician with more than 20 years’ experience in maintenance and operations for school districts and casinos. He lives in southern California and is pursuing Ball State’s online master’s degree in career and technical education.

Needed Challenge After Earning Bachelor’s

Bruce was finishing his bachelor’s in career and technical studies at California State University-San Bernardino (CSUSB) in 2019, when he decided to enhance his personal development, complement his skills and experience—and give himself a challenge.

He began by comparing other graduate programs to CSUSB.

“When I saw Ball State’s CTE graduate programs, I saw many technical and practical programs that would complement my skillset and work experience,” says Bruce.

“I chose the community college and industrial trainer’s track because I like teaching, learning, helping students, and encouraging them to constantly learn in practical ways that will help them succeed in life and the workplace.”

Outstanding Instructors Inspired Him to Teach

While working as a senior heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanic for Desert Community College in Palm Desert, California, Bruce earned associate of arts and associate of science degrees.

“I was inspired by good instructors to teach,” he says. Bruce has also been inspired by Ball State professors Edward Lazaros, Dr. Allen Truell, and Richard Seymour. “I’ve had excellent Q&A sessions with my professors.”

Technology Discoveries Have Been Highlight

Other highlights of the CTE program for Bruce have included learning the history of career and technical education, discovering how technology can improve teaching and workplace productivity, and using interactive space to interact academically and socially with classmates in a collaborating environment.

Bruce plans to finish classes by summer of 2021 and then make the cross country journey to campus to receive his degree.

After graduating from Ball State’s CTE program, Bruce hopes to once again be on the job and in the classroom: “My motivation is to be an engineering director of a facility and teach at a community college as a HVAC-R instructor.”

Summer Job Leads Alissa M. to Career in Early Childhood

It was summer and college-bound Alissa Mwenelupembe needed a job. Her mother suggested she go up the street to a child care center since “she liked kids.”

Twenty years later, having devoted her life’s energies to teaching, coaching, directing, volunteering, advocating, consulting, and researching early childhood education, Alissa still likes kids.

Alissa realized she’d found her field after a couple of career-entry jobs in early childhood education. When she decided to pursue a master’s degree that specialized in child development, the closest one was in Chicago, several hours from her home and workplace in Evansville, Indiana. As a Hoosier educator, she knew that Ball State offered innovative and reputable online programs in education.

‘Online Essential for People Like Me’

“Online learning is essential for people like me who don’t have an opportunity to attend a program nearby and are working full time,” says Alissa, who eventually learned that she could pursue a fully online master’s in elementary education with a concentration in early childhood education. “Ball State met my needs 100 percent.”

For all the advantages of online programs, Alissa felt they had one drawback. “They can be lonely!” she says.

But that didn’t prevent her from making a life-changing connection with one of her professors, Dr. Linda Taylor, assistant professor of early childhood, youth, and family studies.

Met Online Mentor Face to Face

“One year I was presenting at a conference in Indianapolis, and Dr. Taylor was waiting outside of the room to meet me face to face,” says Alissa. “That was probably the most meaningful thing that happened to me during my program.”

Dr. Taylor has continued to mentor her throughout her career, she says.

Today, Alissa is the inclusion specialist with SPARK Learning Lab, a statewide technical assistance provider for Indiana early childhood education programs. In this role, she is creating tools and resources for early childhood educators across the state of Indiana.

Inclusion Drives Her Research

“Inclusion is so important to me,” says Alissa, whose research interests cover social-emotional development of Black children, primarily those living in families and communities that are not a racial match.

Convinced that Ball State is the advanced education option for Indiana educators, she is now pursuing an online Ed.D. in elementary education with an emphasis in early childhood education and cognates in diversity studies and adult education.

Alissa is co-editor of Each and Every Childhood: Teaching Pre-School with an Equity Lens, which explores topics ranging from how teachers can examine personal biases to guiding children’s conversations about identity and equity.

Provides Consulting for Today’s Educators

She also conducts workshops, presentations, and keynote talks through her private consulting firm, We Are Better Together Consulting.

“I enjoy helping teachers reflect on their work and administrators dream of new ways to retain and motivate their staff,” she says. “I believe that when directors have a strong vision, their programs will succeed.”

Says ‘Now is Moment’ for Early Childhood

After serving various roles with the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Alissa today is a member of the Council for NAEYC Accreditation Programs for Young Children and says “right now is our moment.”

“NAEYC, and other organizations supporting early childhood educators, have come together to create a movement called ‘Power to the Profession,’ ” she says. “The goal of P2P is to professionalize the field of early childhood education so that our educators get the respect and pay that they deserve.”

Online M.S. in Nursing Student Pursues Assignment in Middle East

Like others in her master’s program, Cory Hasik was in a rush to graduate last December.

But unlike others, she had semester courses to finish early so she could pack for an excursion 7,000 miles and seven hours away.

First Sergeant of Indiana Army National Guard, Cory was being deployed to the Middle East as a flight paramedic. As the senior enlisted medical professional of her unit, Cory’s aeromedical evacuation unit is responsible for providing air evacuation of casualties, in her words, “to a higher echelon of care.”

Her specific location and assignment remain classified. “I can say that it is a dynamic environment that changes quickly,” she reported, soon after arriving at her site of deployment. “The operational environment is dynamic due to threat and heightened by COVID-19.”

Ready to Transport and Treat

Cory says her unit is equipped with the tools needed to transport and treat COVID patients.

Leading up to her deployment, Cory worked full time as a telemetry unit nurse at the Jesse Brown V.A. Medical Center in Chicago. She was also enrolled in the Ball State Online master of science in nursing and pursuing the nurse administrator concentration.

Cory wasn’t surprised that Ball State accommodated her military obligations. When she first considered MSN programs in Indiana, she concluded that Ball State University not only “offered one of the state’s highly comprehensive online [nursing] administrator programs” but were also “large supporters of military students.”

She Saw Military Support First-Hand

She was in the middle of a practicum at the Adam Benjamin, Jr. VA Outpatient Clinic in Crown Point, Indiana, when she learned that she would be deployed overseas.

“I was offered the opportunity to complete my clinical requirements in an abbreviated time frame,” says Cory. Course instructor and Ball State associate professor of nursing, Dr. Connie McIntosh, worked with Cory so she could complete clinic hour requirements and a final paper by Dec. 1, before heading to premobilization training.

Nursing Was Opportunity to Change Lives

Cory had entered the nursing field in 2017 after finishing her bachelor’s in nursing, and after five years as a paramedic.

She liked the fact that bedside nursing allows nurses the opportunity to change the lives of their patients. Having served a previous role with a V.A. outpatient clinic and, most recently, with a V.A. medical center, Cory’s goal is to create a future job where she can broaden services to veterans as well as improve policies and processes.

“The military has provided me many leadership development courses,” says Cory. “However, the lessons learned from this master’s program will make me a more well-rounded leader, capable of handling diverse and challenging issues.”

Nursing Team Was Helpful

Cory says Diana Bantz, associate director for graduate nursing programs, and Shantelle Estes, graduate advisor, were also instrumental in helping her finish her semester before her deployment.

A 17-year veteran of the Indiana Army National Guard, this is Cory’s third deployment. She served in Iraq as a clinical medic in 2005-2006 and in Afghanistan as a line medic in 2011-2012.

CTE Grad Talks Up Family, Consumer Sciences on Rachael Ray Show

Photo courtesy of The Rachael Ray Show

Nic Zimmerman, a middle school teacher in the state of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, frequently shows Rachael Ray cooking videos in his family and consumer science classes.

Last fall, the hostess of “The Rachael Ray Show” returned the favor and invited him to demonstrate for her TV audience the correct way to cut vegetables.

A graduate of the Ball State Online master’s in career and technical education (CTE) and the family and consumer science track, Nic says Rachael Ray had caught his attention because he thinks his students and their families can relate to her.

“She takes complex recipes and makes them simple. She also takes simple recipes and makes them complex,” says Nic.

Show Was Opportunity to Advocate

His appearance on her show also gave him a national platform.

“The most exciting part of the experience was to advocate for our profession of family and consumer sciences,” he says. Nic told Rachael Ray viewers there are 27,000 FCS teachers in the country but that many more are needed.

“We are teaching essential life skills and preparing our students and community members to be successful as an individual, in their families, and ultimately as a part of their communities,” says Nic, who serves as adviser of his school’s Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) organization.

After Nic earned his bachelor’s in family and consumer sciences at Bridgewater College, also located in Shenandoah Valley, he began his teaching career and eventually sought a master’s program.

How a Virginia Teacher Found Ball State

Nic said several factors led him to Ball State Online: Professional contacts in Indiana vouched for the program. The program was less expensive, compared to others. And a couple professors were his designated points of contact for information.

For those who are considering CTE programs, this is one of program’s “most astounding features,” says Nic. “I engaged in prompt email conversations with them, and on several occasions they communicated with me via phone.”

Nic says he may have learned more about teaching than content knowledge through the program.

“Much of what I believed about CTE from undergrad was reconstructed mentally as I progressed through my master’s degree, he says. “I had to step back and complete my assignments as I was ‘thinking about the way I was thinking’ and about the way I engaged in teaching family and consumer science classes.”

Says Classmate Diversity Was Benefit

Nic said he benefited from the diversity of fields in which his online classmates worked.

“The opportunity to engage with classmates from a wide variety of perspectives was the ultimate highlight of the online platform,” he says. “Everyone shared a passion and a love for CTE. That transcends boundaries and enhanced the ability for us to grow together as an online community.”

Although Ball State Online programs require no visits to campus, Nic chose to make the eight-hour, 500-mile drive from Shenandoah County to Muncie, Ind., in the summer of 2019, to take the commencement walk. Even though he was seeing the university for the first time, he felt at home. “I felt like I had been on campus for years,” he says.

Sees Future as Curriculum Specialist

Nic plans to eventually pursue a position as a CTE curriculum specialist for a school district, noting that the Ball State curriculum encouraged collaboration with other areas such as the curriculum track.

Nic says the master’s has equipped him to help develop curriculum materials for the school division. “I’ve already had the opportunity to help write our district’s CTE class manual,” he says.

Learn more about our Master’s in Career and Technical education.

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