Nursing Alumna Nurtures Process Improvements

Woman concentrating while working at a computer workstation

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. 

Graduate Nursing Student Battled COVID as Brand-New RN

In her first year as an RN, bachelor of nursing alumnus Sabrina Manahan confronted COVID-19 when she prepped a patient for the ventilator.

“I held his hand and cried with him as he said goodbye to his wife, not knowing if it would be his last,” says Sabrina, who is now in Ball State’s online master’s in nursing. “He made us promise to do everything possible to save him.”

These were the early days of the pandemic. Like other hospitals, her hospital was beginning to isolate cases with COVID from other patients.

Begins Search for Master’s Degree

Meanwhile, Sabrina was comparing graduate nursing programs.

Easy choice. Except for clinicals, her alma mater’s master’s in nursing was online. She knew the professors. She knew the staff. Class time and study time would fit around her work schedule. Online study decreased the risks of students spreading the virus among classmates. And she could pursue a concentration leading to a family nurse practitioner’s license.

“I chose this concentration so that I will be able to treat the general population rather than a smaller demographic in which I work with now,” she says, referring to her present position in ICU. “I have always wanted to work in a small family clinic.”

Treats COVID Patients Every Day

Today Sabrina works at IU Health Arnett Hospital in Lafayette, Indiana.

“I am working with COVID-positive patients on a daily basis, so it was nice that I’d not have to worry about time from school if I were to need tested—or if I were COVID-positive,” she says.

Treating COVID-positive patients isn’t quite as harrowing as it was during her first year as an RN, says Sabrina.

“To Others This Was Pure Terror”

“We had a whole floor designated for COVID patients, and every day you were randomly assigned to either work on the trauma unit or the COVID unit,” she says. “To some, this was no issue, but to others this was pure terror.”

Many nurses questioned giving COVID patient care when the risks were still unknown, says Sabrina. They watched experienced RNs cry when they huddled from fear and lack of information.

Nursing staff were receiving updated guidelines—daily—from the Centers for Disease Control or World Health Organization which triggered changes in procedures.

Constant Battle to Keep Up

“It seemed to be a constant battle with new surges of infection that we had to keep up with to make sure we had enough beds, supplies, and staff to manage the great increase in patients,” she says.

Sabrina was one of few who volunteered to work the COVID floor.

“I was able to volunteer with less fear than others because in the beginning it was mainly affecting people in their 40s and above,” she says. “I was only 24 years old so I figured it would be safer for me to go to our COVID unit than my coworkers in their 40s and 50s.”

Not that she’ll ever forget that first step inside a COVID patient’s room.

Says She Was Shaking as She Put on PPE

“I remember I was shaking as I put on my PPE,” says Sabrina, referring to the personal protective equipment worn by health-care workers. “It was a lot of stress knowing that if you didn’t wear everything correctly or take it off correctly that you could risk spreading or contracting the virus.”

“The most sobering aspect for me was having to hold up an iPad for family members to say goodbye to their loved ones,” says Sabrina. “I could never imagine not being able to be there with a loved one while they passed, and I was having people do it every day.  I still get angry thinking about it to this day.”

Pandemic Impact Considered in Grad Class 

The impact of the pandemic has found its way into her graduate classes, she says.

“We have discussed the pathophysiology of coronavirus and how it has impacted health care,” she says. “We discuss how the pandemic has greatly advanced telehealth and the way people access health care.”

Connie McIntosh, associate professor of nursing, learned Sabrina’s and other students’ stories when they were in her nursing information technology class. “Being able to balance graduate work with a full-time professional nursing role is not easy,” says Connie. “Being able to do it during a pandemic is heroic-like.”

For Hyeseok Lee and Co-workers, Ball State Becomes Online Destination

While serving as an an assistant teacher at an international academy on an island just off the southern tip of South Korea, Hyeseok Lee realized she’d need a master’s degree to continue teaching.

After extensive research, she applied and was accepted at several graduate schools with online elementary education programs but ultimately chose a program from an American school she’d never heard of: Ball State University.

“I wanted a program that gave me flexibility so I could take care of my children and work on my courses at the same time,” she says, impressed that it was “a state university with a long history.”

Ironically, when Hyeseok talked to the principal at her academy about leaving to do graduate work, she learned that her principal had graduated from the same Ball State.

Ball State Online Made it Possible

Hyeseok left the academy on the island of Jeju in 2020 so she could become a full-time mom and a part-time student in an online elementary education degree program with a concentration in early childhood.

“It is amazing to raise a child and worth so much to do it,” she says. “I like the fact that Ball State makes it possible.”

Hyeseok says it’s exciting to connect with so many people outside of Korea, and she’s become good friends with classmates.

“I love my professors as well,” she adds. “They have been helpful and knowledgeable for me to continue my learning.”

She’d Never Heard of Canvas Either

She thinks the most appealing aspect of Ball State’s online classroom is its flexibility. “I love Canvas [Ball State’s learning management system],” she says. “I’d never heard of it before but it is easy to navigate and to use.”

When students introduced themselves at the beginning of the semester, Hyeseok says some of her classmates were interested in knowing more about student life in South Korea.

First of all, she explains, the 13-hour time difference between Ball State faculty and South Korea does not impact her since classes are available when she is available—or asynchronously.

Hyeseok earned her undergraduate degree with majors in child welfare, public relations, and advertising from one of the top women’s universities in Korea.

Took Path Through Women’s Schools

In addition to attending a women’s university, she also attended a girls’ junior high and a girls’ high school.

She says the belief that education was primarily for men stems from the influence of Confucianism which held that seeking knowledge was “men’s work.” To help achieve gender equity, leaders founded Sookmyung Women’s University, Hyeseok’s alma mater, in 1906, as the first women’s university in Korea.

Home for Hyeseok is Jeju Island, a tourist destination, located 60 miles south of the mainland.

Her Home is a Vacation Destination

“Its advertising slogan is ‘Hawaii of Asia,’ and it’s the warmest place in South Korea,” says Hyeseok. She describes it as “a volcanic island with beautiful nature, beaches, and famous oranges.”

In recent decades, she says, Jeju has become known as one of busiest honeymoon and vacation destinations in the world.

Hyeseok’s detailed research for graduate schools and successful application may have paid off for some friends in South Korea, too.

Two other assistant teachers at the international academy enrolled in Ball State online degrees, based on her word of mouth alone.

 

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

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.”

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.”

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 Grad Drives 24 Hours From Connecticut to Celebrate Her Achievement

Kaitlynn Holmes had already bought her cap and gown.

Having graduated with a master’s degree in applied behavior analysis through Ball State Online, the Connecticut woman had already planned on driving from the East Coast to the heart of the Midwest for Spring Commencement. So, when the emerging COVID-19 pandemic forced University administrators to cancel the event, Kaitlynn didn’t let it get in her way.

This July, she made the 24-hour round trip anyways.

Plenty of people questioned why. But Holmes had come too far in her education not to mark the occasion. And her experience with Ball State had been so satisfying, she felt like she had to see the campus in real life.

Sure, she couldn’t exactly paint the town Cardinal red once she got here, but it would still be an adventure.

“This is the final year of schooling in my entire life. I wanted to celebrate that moment. I thought that I could at least parade around in my cap and gown and see the university that I attended. So, I did it.”

Making life better for kids

After graduating from Ball State this May, Holmes then passed the Connecticut board exam on July 27 and earned state licensure. She can now proudly say she is a board certified and licensed behavior analyst.

Holmes’ experience with Ball State had been so satisfying, she felt like she had to see the campus in real life.

Behavior analysts develop plans to help children who are having behavioral issues and often train parents, teachers, and others how to implement the plan.

“It’s about making that child’s quality of life better as a whole,” she said.

Behavior analysts can work in a variety of settings, but Kaitlynn hopes to work in a school district, preferably with elementary or middle-school children.

Holmes first heard of Ball State about three years ago. At the time, she was a registered behavior technician in a public school in Connecticut, working under the supervision of a certified and licensed behavior analyst.

A satisfied student

Holmes wanted to move up and become a behavior analyst herself.

“I literally searched on Google for universities that had high passing rates for the behavior analysis exam,” she said.

She found a website that ranked Ball State near the very top. She did some more investigating and realized that the University offered online instruction that would allow her to work and attend school at the same time. Finally, she asked around about Ball State in a Facebook group for behavior analysts and her colleagues gave the program rave reviews.

“I ended up loving the program. It was convenient for me to work full time while also attending grad school.”

She was equally satisfied with her road trip.

Campus was beautiful, and so was the Midwestern countryside, she said. The farms and fields that Hoosiers take for granted were new to Kaitlynn and represented an almost idyllic landscape.

“It was just a really pretty drive. No complaints.”

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