“We are Just Getting Started”: Gerrity on Online Music Education Concentration

Kevin Gerrity

Speaking of Ball State’s online master of music with a concentration in music education, Kevin Gerrity, associate professor of music education, can’t contain his pride, nor his joy. 

“Our online program has become a quick success, and we are just getting started,” he says of the program launched in 2020. 

Kevin says the program met its enrollment goal much sooner than expected and continues to see an increase in student demand.. 

A Graduation Celebration 

“We recently celebrated our first two graduates from the program, who completed the program a semester ahead of schedule,” he says.

The online master’s was launched to support the growth of K-12 music educators and provide a quality foundation for those considering doctoral study. 

“I think the program’s appeal among students is that it is rather affordable, has a rigorous curriculum taught by expert faculty, and is practical and achievable while teaching full time,” he says.  

Courses Provide Practical Solutions 

Kevin says online professional development courses give practical solutions to challenges that in-service music teachers, who comprise most of the enrollment, face each day. 

“It is often the case that our faculty discuss and model specific strategies that the candidates themselves request because of personal struggle or interest,” he says. “We can tailor our discussion to their specific needs. These strategies can be easily implemented into their classroom the very next day.” 

Kevin points out that Ball State’s music education curriculum is unique.  

“Most teacher candidates, despite four years of learning, will end up teaching ‘the way they were taught’ when they were students in K-12 music programs,” says Kevin. “But we are able to dig deeper. We challenge our students to question what they teach and how they teach it, always taking into account the unique needs of their students.” 

Faculty Prepared at Top-notch Programs  

He says it makes a difference that students learn from nationally known and award-winning professors. 

Ball State faculty hold specialized doctoral and/or terminal degrees from the best-known music education programs in the country, he adds. 

“We have music education experts in every field—a band specialist, a string music specialist, a secondary education music specialist, a choral music specialist, and so on,” he says. “At many institutions, music education courses are often taught by music faculty who are content specialists, but not music educators that have actually taught in K-12 public schools.” 

He notes that Ball State’s music education faculty have more than 200 years of combined experience, half of which was spent as public or private school music teachers in K-12 settings.  

Kevin Invested Years in K-12, Too 

As an example, Kevin spent 14 years teaching instrumental and general music in Ohio before joining the Ball State faculty, who have come to be recognized by many peers and colleagues as experts in their field because they regularly participate as leaders in state, regional, and national conferences. 

Pride and joy are also what he feels for his music education alumni. 

“So many Ball State grads, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, are doing great things in Indiana schools,” he says. “I want prospective students to know that choosing our program will also put them in the company of all of our alumni who continue to do amazing things within our profession.” 

 

Kendra Martz, MBA Alumna, Saw Her Future on NBC Dateline

As a youngster, Kendra Martz was so touched by an NBC Dateline episode about the bionic arm that she made her career choice on the spot. “I was immediately intrigued,” says the 2021 Ball State Master of Business Administration (MBA) graduate, “and ever since, I knew I wanted to go into biomedical engineering.” 

Growing up in Boise, Idaho, Kendra’s ambitions led her to California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo to earn a bachelor’s in bioengineering and biomedical engineering. After graduation, she was hired as a development engineer contractor by Zimmer Biomet, a medical device company headquartered in Warsaw, Indiana.  

At the time, her manager was pursuing a Ball State MBA. “He was the first person that vouched for how flexible the program was for those with a full-time job,” says Kendra, who today is senior development engineer. She knows of a product manager, packing engineer, and manufacturing engineer at Zimmer who are Ball State MBA students. 

She’s a Believer in a Degree You Can Apply 

“I’m a big believer in getting a degree in the hopes that you can apply your knowledge for a future job,” she says. “It needs to be applicable to your field or a future opportunity that is realistic for you. I didn’t want to get an MBA just to pad my resume.” 

She recalls that classes in her bachelor’s program focused on careers in research and academia. “There wasn’t a large focus on industry and how engineers benefit from knowledge of business operations,” she says. 

As a new employee at Zimmer, she realized how much business decisions can impact engineering.  

“You can design a surgical instrument that has all sorts of bells and whistles and has pristine functionality,” she explains, “but could be so over engineered that it’s confusing to the customer and doesn’t improve patient outcomes.” 

Pursued Professional Experience First 

Having been advised to get professional experience before doing an MBA, Kendra was four years into her career before enrolling and opting for Ball State’s general MBA.

“A general MBA allowed me to tailor the program for my current role as development engineer, and post-graduation role, as a project manager,” says Kendra, adding, “I took a specific project management class and health economics and policy as it was relevant to my company’s role in personal healthcare.” 

Online classes were ideal for Kendra.  

“I appreciated how I could feel more engaged and connected to classes by actually ‘sitting’ in a class online,” she says. “Classes that allowed me to rewatch lectures at a different time and were predictable on assignment delivery dates were important for me to organize and balance my life between class and work.” 

Online Helped Her Around Busy Seasons 

Kendra says online instruction allowed her to work around high-volume seasons of work and still attend classes at her own pace. 

She found that personal attention from the faculty was also possible online.

“Professors were very prompt via email and understanding my travel schedule pre-pandemic,” she says. “Also, I received very thorough comments and constructive feedback in long-form writing and presentation assignments. It was important input that I could apply to the next assignment.” 

Zimmer Role is Rewarding 

Kendra says it’s rewarding that her role with Zimmer can improve patients’ lives—and hit close to home. 

Both of my parents have had joint replacements,” she says, “so I understand how a hip or shoulder replacement can impact a patient’s future and quality of life.” 

Master’s Program Gives Henderson the Interaction He Preferred

After deciding to pursue another school’s master of business administration (MBA) program with a technology emphasis, state technologist Chris Henderson soon realized he had another decision to make.  

“What I failed to realize was how much the social learning component meant to me,” he says. “Selecting a graduate program is not just about the academics, but also about the network of people and faculty that you work with, and the program that I selected was not ideal for my needs.”  

When he learned about Ball State’s online master of science in information and communication sciences (ICS)—and its interdisciplinary blend of technology, business, leadership, and communications—Chris says what to do next “was an easy decision to make.” 

Works Between Technology, Partner Agencies 

Bearing the title of what he calls “a word salad,” Chris is deputy chief technology officer for enterprise architecture and relationship management for the State of Indiana, through the Indiana Office of Technology. 

“My role is to help facilitate and steward the collaboration between the centralized technology support agency and the 75-plus partner agencies we serve,” he says. 

Chris has worked for four state agencies over the last 20 years and says he “‘grew up’ working in the Indiana State Park system, starting my public service at 20 years old.”

“Serving Hoosiers is Powerful Motivator” 

“The mission-focused work and reward of serving Hoosiers has been a powerful motivator for me since joining the State,” says Chris. “Many of the folks I have worked with over the years have been incredibly smart, diligent workers, and truly passionate about what they do.” 

That passion is infectious, he says.  

“There is a very good chance that I will end up hiring ICS alumni to join us at the Indiana Office of Technology,” says Chris. 

The flexibility of the online MS in ICS program enabled him to go part-time across six semesters and substitute a course that supported his career plans instead of a core requirement. He graduated with his master’s in 2021. 

Immersive Learning Taught in Every Course 

“The immersive learning opportunities and real-world issues were true in nearly every course for me with some specific examples including conducting competitive analysis for a pre-startup company, writing machine learning algorithms for facial recognition, and producing research and recommendations for cloud architecture for a consulting company,” says Chris of the program’s course work. 

The program’s social learning components provided him the network of professionals and alumni he wanted. 

Life’s Possibilities Inspired by Alumni Network 

“These folks were honestly world class and offered perspectives and insights that are invaluable to those considering careers or roles in specific segments of the industry,” he says. “Numerous conversations with faculty and alumni have both inspired me and expanded my view of what is possible in my life.” 

Being able to bounce ideas off classmates in roles like his has been a great resource, he adds. 

“The course work was engaging, practical, and incredibly relevant to innovation and emerging technologies,” says Chris. “The program isn’t easy, but I had a great deal of fun along the way taking on that challenge and met a stellar network of students, faculty, and alumni.” 

 

Ryan Wiaranowski Calls Master’s in EMDD “Ultimate Experience”

When Ryan Wiaranowski began interviewing for UX jobs after earning his master’s in emerging media design and development (EMDD), he had answers, strategies, and a portfolio at the ready. 

“I know I got my first job at Quest [Diagnostics] because I could speak about the design thinking strategies and lessons learned,” he says, referring to his UX architect job with the world’s leading provider of diagnostic information services. 

Ryan says his master’s in EMDD was still working for him when he moved on to become director of experience design with BioReference Laboratories in Cincinnati, Ohio, and part of the largest full-service specialty laboratory in the U.S.  

Communication Skills Required 

Working with product, IT, marketing, operations, and delivery divisions at BioReference, Ryan oversees a team of seven designers. 

“Being a director now, and having to hire UX designers, the first thing I look for are communication skills,” he says, noting that the EMDD helped him develop speaking and leadership skills.  

Ryan says there is a strategy behind the program’s course work. 

“The course work is the foundation,” he says. “It provides a set of strategies and techniques required to enter the field.” 

Mentoring Designers Brings Reward  

Now, he speaks from experience when it comes to his designer team: “Being able to mentor them, develop their skills, and watch them succeed, is the most rewarding feeling I’ve had professionally.” 

Ryan joined BioReference Laboratories in 2020 when the company was becoming a national leader in COVID 19 testing solutions. 

“I have spent the last two years creating digital solutions and strategies to help the organization test as many patients as possible throughout the pandemic,” he says.  

Helps Launch Scarlet Health® 

In 2021, his team helped launch Scarlet Health®, which provides in-home laboratory appointments, including COVID-19. 

“With Scarlet, a phlebotomist will come to your home or workplace to collect the sample for the lab,” he says.  

Ryan designed and executed the creative/UX strategy for Scarlet. “I love being able to play a role in people getting care and doing so in a way that is as comfortable and convenient as possible,” he says. 

Ryan credits Ball State’s EMDD degree with providing “the ultimate experience. I could not have achieved the success I’ve had in my career without the program.”

Commends EMDD Founder Dr. Palilonis 

Ryan also commends Dr. Jennifer Palilonis, professor of multi-media journalism and founder of the EMDD program.  

“Dr. Jennifer Palilonis is a tremendous mentor. I knew when I talked with Jenn, I would always get feedback that would provide clarity—or challenge me to be better,” he says.  

Ryan contends that the EMDD provides flexibility for graduates. 

“While UX design turned out to be my career,” he says, “the methodologies and strategies the program teaches, and real-world experiences you gain, could land you a career in any profession you are passionate about.” 

Why Bridget-Anne Burke at CNN Believes EMDD is Emerging

Had she not taken an elective course in video production in high school, Bridget-Anne Burke, graduate of Ball State’s emerging media design and development (EMDD) program, might be working with whales and other aquatic mammals. Instead, she is editorial operations trainer at CNN, instructing current and incoming employees on technical applications and operations. 

Until Bridget-Anne took that high school elective, marine biology was her career quest. By the time she was a college undergraduate, her passion was for television news and fueled by opportunities to film, edit, and direct weekly episodes for her college news station.

After graduation, she worked as a professional videographer and photojournalist, before joining CNN as digital media coordinator. 

While working remotely for the network at the start of the pandemic, she realized she had time to spare and began to search for master’s degrees. She knew she needed a program that was mostly online and on her schedule so she could continue full time employment. 

“The interesting curriculum and topics that EMDD offered seemed like a perfect addition to my existing knowledge base,” says Bridget-Anne, who also noted, “Ball State’s program was significantly lower in cost than some of the other online programs I was looking at.” 

She says the flexibility of the EMDD program was a “huge perk.”  

While the low-residency, mostly online EMDD program typically meets once each semester, Bridget-Anne’s cohort met only once because of pandemic precautions.  

“However, when we were able to meet our colleagues in person, it was an exciting experience,” she says. “We were able to work on problems and solutions and prepare for our projects for the upcoming semester in a different way than if it had just been over Zoom.” 

In one of Bridget-Anne’s projects, she served as social media manager and assistant videographer for a team of students that produced Match Point 2.0: The Rise of HCBU Men’s Volleyball, the sequel to a transmedia documentary produced the year before. 

For this sequel, students used Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram for social media. In the first 100 days, Instagram registered a 14 percent increase in followers and engaged nearly 55 thousand Instagram accounts compared to the campaign for the original documentary. 

“Emerging” is a key word in the emerging media design and development title, observes Bridget-Anne.

“This program is very focused on up-and-coming skills as well as current trends,” she says. “To be innovative in the areas of media and design you need to understand building blocks, but you have to be focused on the future.” 

The EMDD master’s degree was designed to accommodate working professionals and distant learners. 

“It is a good fit for people who are more autonomous and self-directed and empowers its participants to take more control of their learning and goals” says Bridget-Anne. 

From her time in the industry, she has seen many more females in news in front of the camera, and in roles like writing and producing, but fewer working in sound, directing, editing, and filming. 

“I knew that I wanted to continue in a more technical role in a larger market and city,” she says about her move to CNN in Atlanta. 

Today she is preparing for a promotion to a senior trainer role. “I believe my experiences in my master’s program have made me more qualified for this promotion,” she says. “Being introduced to emerging concepts has allowed me to bring back fresh and more unique ideas to my department at CNN.” 

She believes it will make a difference in her future. 

“I will be able to use the knowledge and skills learned from this program for many years to come.” 

 

 

Erin Boomershine Inspired to Pursue Master’s Degree While Wrapping Up Bachelor’s

While finishing her bachelor’s in computer and information technology (CIT), Erin Boomershine was already doing graduate research toward Ball State’s online master of science in information and communication sciences. 

In fact, she’s teaming up with Ball State professors on two research projects. 

A primary project, “The Machine Wisdom Project,” will have local application, says Erin. Her research, along with that of Chris Davison, associate professor of computer and information technology, and David Hua, associate professor of computer technology, will lead to an application allowing students in the Applied Technology building to register their comfort level with the building’s temperature. An artificial intelligence system will use that information to, ultimately, alter the HVAC system to improve student comfort.  

Erin Receives Funding for CareDEX Project 

For a secondary project, known as CareDEX, Erin has received funding from the University of California-Irvine’s Summer Research Undergraduate Fellowship. CareDEX, a project founded by Professor Davison, enables an “incident commander” to communicate with first responders in case of an emergency in assisted living facilities. Erin’s role is to encourage local assisted living facilities to participate in the research and testing process.  

Explaining her fascination with computer and information technology, Erin says, “It encourages exploration and discussion regarding common problems in the world of computers. This discussion allows students to begin crafting their own solutions, which is one of the things I love about CIT.” 

Says Smaller Classes Meet Student Needs 

Erin insists that “smaller class sizes make the learning experience more tailored to students’ needs.” 

That was the case, she says, in courses such as systems administration fundamentals, internetwork design and administration, and infrastructure services. She not only explored a variety of subjects but also discussed her exploration with classmates.  

“All of these classes were extremely immersive as the final projects were case studies or RFPs,” says Erin, referring to projects where students function as tech consultants. “Not only were these projects interesting but they allowed me to understand the formal communication aspect of technology, which I have grown to love.” 

 Worked as Teaching Assistant 

As an undergraduate, Erin worked as a teaching assistant within the Department of Computer Science on campus.  

“This position helped me further my formal communication regarding technology and code,” she says. “I have learned multiple ways to explain problems and solutions to those who may not be CIT or computer science students.” 

Profs Showed Erin Her Potential 

Professors Davison and Hua helped Erin understand her potential when she was a CIT major.  

“Both of these professors have helped me understand CIT from an outside and industry perspective via personal stories,” she says. “These stories helped me understand the vast area this major covers and all the possibilities that will be unlocked post-graduation.” 

Post-graduation, Erin plans to become a business analyst or technology consultant. 

Master’s in EMDD Launches Parker Swartz’s Career in Chicago Marketing

“I loved going into his office because there was a lot of creative energy there,” says Parker, graduate of Ball State’s emerging media design and development (EMDD) master’s degree. 

The EMDD program emphasizes three key areas that are in high demand in the workforce: design thinking, human-computer interaction, and cross-platform storytelling. 

A generation later, Parker works as marketing manager for Blinkfire Analytics, a marketing analytics company based in downtown Chicago, located in the West Loop. 

Parker says Blinkfire is a leading business intelligence and marketing analytics platform that evaluates sports, media, and entertainment sponsorships across social media, digital, and advanced TV. He still gets a thrill from the marketing ambience.

“Their Creativity Inspires Me Every Day” 

“One of the best things of working in marketing and advertising is the creative atmosphere and people,” he says. “At Blinkfire, I have coworkers building computer programs that are changing the world of sports. Being around that kind of creativity inspires me every day.” 

Parker is convinced that his graduate degree prepared him for his work in the world of marketing. 

He’s convinced it can do the same for others in the field: “I believe this program has a ton to offer marketing and advertising students and professionals specifically because of how the marketing industry is adopting the rapidly growing digital world.”

Parker began his career at Upshot, an advertising agency also located in Chicago’s West Loop.  

Started Career in Advertising 

“To be able to start my career in Chicago at an amazing advertising agency like Upshot and work with an incredible client in Constellation Brands [Corona, Modelo, and Pacifico Beer] was a dream come true,” he says. 

Parker says, “You can’t beat downtown Chicago. The city has everything: Lake Michigan, beaches, world-renowned museums, sports, mass amounts of entertainment, and any restaurant you can think of. I think the city inspires everyone who works here.” 

Now at Blinkfire, Parker works with many sports leagues, teams, and players across the globe that use their platform. 

Blinkfire is Perfect Blend of Passion and Abilities 

“As a sports nerd and NCAA D1 collegiate volleyball player,” says Parker. “I think my role at Blinkfire is the perfect blend of passion and abilities for me.” 

The fact that the EMDD program enrolled students from diverse undergraduate backgrounds appealed to Parker. 

“I got to work with people who studied telecommunications, journalism, art, science, and much more,” he says. “I think EMDD does a great job of giving you the tools to success in a modern work environment within your chosen industry.” 

Applied lab experiences are the centerpiece of the EMDD. Parker applies storytelling strategies learned in the EMDD program to his daily work. 

“Our design thinking labs have proven to be incredibly relevant in my workplace,” notes Parker. “I have used ideation strategies from our labs countless times. And it has helped me solve problems surrounding marketing tactics, competitive research, and digital solutions across many forms of business.” 

Parker admits he didn’t compare the program to similar programs because Ball State EMDD is so unique. 

“I knew some of the most talented professors at Ball State were a part of the program,” he says, noting that faculty truly care about their students. “Working with amazing professors such as Dr. Jennifer Palilonis, Dr. Adam Kuban, and Dr. Kevin Moloney was a huge draw.” 

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