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

Kendra in the office, smiling

Kendra is at work using a laptopAs 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.” 

Aihua Li, Master’s in Data Science Professor, is Living Example

Aihua Li, assistant teaching professor of data science, uses herself as an example of what one can do with an advanced degree in data science. 

“If you are equipped with knowledge in data science,” she says, “there is a high chance that you can get a great job, no matter where you are in this growing field.”   

Aihua came to Ball State in 2021 after doing five years of post-doctoral work at Boise Aerospace Laboratory at Idaho State University and Boise State University as well as one year at Miami University in Ohio. She completed all her academic degrees at Beijing Normal and Lanzhou universities in China. 

Her expertise in data science and applications in geography and environmental science led her to the Ball State faculty position. 

One of the First Full-time Faculty 

“I am very proud to be one of the first full-time faculty in the program,” she says of Ball State’s master’s in data science, which was launched in 2020. “I have contributed a lot to the program, and I am very happy to observe its growth.” 

The 32-credit, online-only, non-thesis degree provides a strong foundation in math, computer science, and statistics and programming skills that are in high demand in the businesses of software development, network and systems engineering, business analysis, and data analysis, and mathematics, to name a few.  

“Even in an online learning environment, we place an emphasis on smaller class sizes and greater personal attention from faculty,” says Aihua.  

Aihua is Interdisciplinary Geospatial Scientist 

Aihua says she was trained to be “an interdisciplinary geospatial scientist, with lots of experience in big data and statistical analysis.” 

“There is a big increase in data and information over the world, but how to make good use of these data is difficult and needs people with the expertise,” she says. “Any company and institute that uses data need data analysts to conduct a quality job.” 

The most lucrative jobs in data analysis,” she notes, “are those that use data to make investment decisions, target customers, assess risks, and decide on capital allocations.”   

What Students Want from the Program 

What’s attracting students to the program, she observes, is mastering skills for current jobs and future jobs, and enhancing their research in academic fields.  

“Real-world problems are used as examples in our classes to train students, so they can immediately apply the skills after graduation to their careers,” says Aihua. “Students are expected to conduct more complex projects or research during the courses to achieve the goal of addressing real-world problems.” 

“The knowledge you gain in these courses can easily expand into a number of discipline-specific applications in the health, environmental, social, and behavioral sciences,” she says.

She is Scholar of Big Data Analysis 

With ten-plus years of research in environment and ecology, Aihua is a scholar of big data analysis and its applications on natural resources, ecology, and environment. 

Which is why she self-identifies as an environmentally-friendly and data-sensitive person in nature.”  

Faculty Make MBA Courses Interesting, Relatable, and Applicable

An electrical engineer for Marathon Petroleum Corporation and a student of Ball State’s online MBA program, Terry Pharaon admits he’s always on the lookout for efficient ways to complete projects, access energy, and limit waste.  

That’s why he chose logistics and supply chain management from the MBA’s eight concentrations. This concentration is a study of ways to improve the flow of materials, supplies, and products from suppliers to clients. 

“Proper management of conventional resources along with renewable energy and the rapid evolution of technology is the future of our world,” says Terry, who expects to graduate in 2024. “In this day and age, everyone shops online. Everything is expected to have a shorter lead time. Engineering must move at the same pace.” 

Launched Career with Marathon 

Born in Miami, Terry says his interest in reliable and sustainable energy production stems from living in Third-world countries Haiti and Dominican Republic where, at the time, electricity was only available on average 14 hours each day. Alternative power sources were used for the remaining hours of the day, he says. 

He returned to the U.S. to earn his B.S. in electrical engineering at Michigan State University and graduated in 2014. 

After serving several internships during his undergrad years, his professional career took off as project engineer I with Marathon Petroleum. With his promotion to project engineer II, he manages more challenging mechanical projects and has overseen the electrical and controls portion of a $26 million capital growth expansion project of approximately 420 pipeline miles.  

Impressed with MBA’s U.S. News Ranking 

Terry enrolled in the online Ball State MBA in 2019. “The BSU program was very affordable, in terms of cost per credit, and had good ratings on usnews.com,” he says, noting the MBA’s Top 20 ranking for Best Online MBA programs by U.S. News and World Report. 

A coworker pursuing the program had “great things to say about the professors,” says Terry. 

“Great things,” he found, were particularly true of Dr. Tung Liu, professor of economics; Dr. Chris Luchs, assistant professor of accounting; and Dr. Brian Webster, associate professor of management. “They have made the courses interesting, relatable, and very applicable to any branch of business administration,” he says. 

How Terry Has Used Class Work on the Job 

Ball State’s online programs are advertised as providing classroom content that students can use immediately on the job.

“The MBA helps me understand how my current company decides to pursue a specific project as opposed to another,” he says. “I am understanding the terminologies used when business development makes a case for a project and asks my team to implement it.”  

Although just a few years into his career, Terry aspires long-term to be the CEO or COO of an organization that makes sustainable energy its focus while managing projects to create opportunities for the underserved. 

Role in International Development is Possibility 

“This may be in the form of building power plants using current technologies and helping build reliable and efficient transportation systems to eliminate the supply chain roadblocks that underdeveloped countries face,” he says. 

In addition to English, Terry is proficient in French, Haitian Creole, and Spanish and sees working with an international development organization such as USAID or World Bank Group as another option.  

“I hope that my project management, construction, supply chain experience, business acumen, and language proficiencies will allow me to reach this goal.” 

 

How One Graduate Found His Future in the Cloud


“Lots of electives. Lots of options. In addition to corporate, you can do project management or the more technical. I gravitated toward the technical side.”
 

Nathan Hiscock, client innovation director for CleanSlate Technology Group in Carmel, Indiana is talking about Ball State University’s online master of science in information and communication science.   

 “Lots of opportunities for networking and building relationships. And the program is not so . . .” He winces before he says the word. “Not so . . . academic.” 

An Academic Program With Real-World Projects 

His point is that the online master’s in information and communication science is a classroom complete with industry challenges in real-time. You negotiate while collaborating with business professionals, faculty active in their industries, student peers in mid-career, and alumni who have proven themselves in the realm of management and technology leadership.

Nathan likes the fact that incoming students are required to have three years of work experience,  who, in his opinion, “have better mindsets and a certain level of professionalism.” 

“If you’re used to doing it a certain way,” he says, “it can be frustrating to work with someone who’s not producing.” 

As far as collaborating with alumni leaders, Nathan was already one of those alumni leaders when he enrolled. 

Earned His Bachelor’s in Computer Science 

After earning his Ball State bachelor of science in computer science in 1999, he worked in IT software services consulting for more than 20 years while also launching several businesses. 

But when weekly cross-country travel began creating more stress than he wanted early in his career, and with a second baby on the way, he realized “his higher calling as a father and husband took priority.” 

That’s why, in 2010, he established 3i Consulting, a technology consulting firm where Nathan was president, solutions architect, and creative ideator for more than a decade. 

In 2021, he decided to reinvent himself, pursue Ball State’s master’s program, and focus on the cloud practitioner curriculum to learn the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud platform and operate competently in that expanding technology environment.   

Cloud Technology Class Hooks Hiscock 

Ball State was the first university in the country to partner with  AWS Academy to deliver this curriculum. With his first class on cloud technology, Nathan was obsessed. 

After earning the foundational certificate as AWS Cloud Certified Practitioner, he completed certificates designated as AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate, AWS Business Professional, and AWS Cloud Economics. 

In addition to cloud technologies, the master’s also allowed Nathan to explore and develop leadership, communication, and technical skills relevant to today’s companies and organizations.  

Because faculty are actively engaged in creating career opportunities through the program’s active alumni association and industry partnerships, students like Nathan are provided career development workshops and faculty mentoring to help guide them to jobs that match their career ambitions.

Professors Guide Him to CleanSlate 

For Nathan, faculty recommended the position of client innovation director with CleanState. “I collaborated with my professors who by then knew me and my capabilities,” he says. 

Nathan is responsible for partnerships, solution packaging, presales, and demand generation for CleanSlate’s service products.  

“I engage partnerships, drive the pursuit process, provide technical presales support, lead training and seminars, train sales staff on service products, help market our products, build community, and recruit talent.” 

The master’s program couldn’t have been more central to his professional advancement for Nathan.  

“The program is more than just learning academic content,” he explains. “Sure, there’s plenty of that, but there’s also community. You learn about yourself. You gain new advisors with insight into your potential and partners in your future. Alumni believe in the program and bring you along as well.” 

Nursing Alumna Nurtures Process Improvements

While working as a transplant nurse coordinator at University of California, Irvine (UCI), Samantha Sulkoske, then a Ball State master’s in nursing student, observed the wait time for patients scheduled for organ transplants.  

As part of a personal initiative supported by team leadership and physicians, she created a triaging tool to evaluate each patient referral and schedule their evaluation, which allowed for timely transplants and decreased waiting times.

“It streamlined the scheduling process and supported expedited workups for listing and a shorter turnaround time for transplantation,” says Samantha, now clinical expediter for the Swedish Transfer and Operations Center (STOC), which is part of the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle.  

Her Triaging Tool Wins IONL Scholarship 

The tool at the center of the project, “A Triage-Based Approach for Managing Transplant Referrals,” won Samantha the 2021 Indiana Organization for Nursing Leadership (IONL) scholarship.  

She presented her project at the annual Kidney/Pancreas Transplant and Nephrology Symposium, attended by health care professionals around the country. 

“My colleagues at UCI Health have informed me that my process is still used today,” she says. 

Siktberg Nomination Was Huge Accomplishment: Samantha 

Dr. Linda Siktberg, director of Ball State’s School of Nursing, nominated Samantha for the (IONL) scholarship. 

“This passion for process improvement is what eventually led Samantha to choose an administrative/leadership career path,” wrote Dr. Siktberg in her letter of recommendation. 

According to Samantha, “The honor of being nominated for the scholarship by my professors and Dr. Siktberg was a huge accomplishment in and of itself.” 

Discovers Passion for Process Improvement 

While considering a master’s in nursing, Samantha looked at several schools. “Ultimately, I chose Ball State because of my experience there as an undergraduate student and their flexibility in course work through online options,” she says. 

At first, Samantha was going to pursue the family nurse practitioner concentration. But after working on the transplant referral project, she realized her passion for process improvement.  

“I’ve discovered I really have a knack for process improvement,” she says. “I originally started my studies with a family nurse practitioner concentration, but after working on this project I realized my passion for process improvement and leadership. I decided to switch concentrations to nursing administration, and I have continued to advocate for process improvement in my professional career.”  

Testing Instrument Reduces Lab Times 

While working as an oncology nurse navigator for Ascension St. Vincent in Indianapolis, Samantha implemented the use of a POC (point of care) testing instrument to reduce lab turnaround times—and patient wait times—for chemotherapy infusions. This quality improvement project was then selected to be used to maintain CoC (Commission on Cancer) accreditation for the cancer program at Ascension. 

At the Swedish Transfer and Operations Center, Samantha oversees the input, output, and flow of overall patient volume as they proceed from admission to discharge. 

Will Pursue Ball State MBA from Seattle  

From Seattle, Samantha will soon begin her Ball State online MBA. “A degree in business will open myself up to the opportunity for entrepreneurial pursuits,” she says. 

She’s impressed by the fact that the MBA consistently ranks in the top 20 online business schools in the United States. She says the online MBA, added to her BSN and her online MSN, will give her a “three-peat” for degrees earned at Ball State. 

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