Even eight hours away from Muncie, Brianna Meyer found hands-on opportunities to apply her degree.
Meyer, an Altoona, Iowa resident who is working on a master of arts in applied behavior analysis online, joined 13 other Ball State students for the 2017 Alternative Spring Break in St. Louis. There, the group spent a week volunteering for Kingdom House, a nonprofit that helps the economically disadvantaged in its immediate neighborhoods. The students helped with everything from weeding a community garden to teaching a cooking class for teens.
The trip put Meyer in close contact with the families Kingdom House serves, which gave her the real-world experience she wanted for her degree. “It’s about people working together in order to make sure that their child has the best life that they can have,” she said.
Distance Not a Deterrent
The week began with a 3 a.m. wakeup and a trip of more than 500 miles from Altoona to Muncie before Meyer got in a van for another 300 miles to St. Louis, only to repeat the distance returning home a few days later.
“I know a lot of bonding takes place on road trips,” she said. “I didn’t want to not know the people I was going to be living with for a week.” The fact she studies online didn’t set her apart from the rest of the group.
“It’s exciting to get to hang out with a group of people who are so prideful and get to live it every day. And they immediately accepted me in to the group,” she said. “It wasn’t ‘Hey, you’re a stranger and come from far away,’ it was ‘Hey, you go to Ball State like us.’”
Meyer sees herself participating in more opportunities like Alternative Spring Break—regardless of distance. It was part of a package her degree offered that she described as “just the right fit.”
Already working in the field as an applied behavior analysis specialist, her master’s degree, once complete, will elevate her to a board-certified behavior analyst.
“I particularly like applied behavior analysis because it is an evidence-based practice, so it has been researched time and time again,” she said. “It has been shown to be effective in behavior change.”