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

Ryan at zoom meeting

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.” 



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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