Confidence, Skills, and a Path Toward a Doctoral Degree

Already having a background in business, Lindsay Peelman was looking for a way to branch her career into the education sector and knew she needed a master’s degree to do so. However, living in a more remote area of California proved difficult to find nearby accredited and focused in-person programs. If she was going to get the education she needed to achieve her career ambitions, she needed to look online. 

Lindsay Peelman

Lindsay did her research. She looked into MBA programs and was accepted into quite a few, but when it came down to the final decision, it was clear that Ball State’s online master’s in business education was the winning choice.

“I was able to tailor it to weigh heavier on education courses and round out my knowledge while closing any gaps that existed,” says Lindsay. “I sat next to another student from the same program at graduation … and we both remarked how amazing it was to come out of the same program feeling confident and prepared for two very different career paths.”

Additionally, the University’s accreditation was another important factor in her decision. Because of this, Lindsay is able to teach in California in both the education and business departments with her degree.

Along with her tailored education, she gained confidence and sharpened skills that she can readily apply to her career as a business and cooperative education instructor and coordinator at Monterey Peninsula College. 

“I feel like as an instructor, I learned how to step back and facilitate instead of lecture,” says Lindsay. “I always left with the understanding of how pivotal a good instructor can be for a student. I carry that with me to every class I teach at the college I work at.”

Lindsay Peelman and Dr. Allen Truell celebrate Lindsay’s graduation from Ball State University

But what may have exceeded her expectations even more was the support and mentorship of Dr. Allen Truell.

Dr. Truell, acknowledged by many students for his support and investment in their futures, continued working with Lindsay even after graduation and recommended her for doctoral study. He gave insights on his experience, input on programs she was considering, and encouragement to fly. 

Through it all, Lindsay found that her educational journey would continue on at New York University where she was accepted into an EdD in Leadership and Innovation at the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. 

CTE Grad Talks Up Family, Consumer Sciences on Rachael Ray Show

Photo courtesy of The Rachael Ray Show

Nic Zimmerman, a middle school teacher in the state of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, frequently shows Rachael Ray cooking videos in his family and consumer science classes.

Last fall, the hostess of “The Rachael Ray Show” returned the favor and invited him to demonstrate for her TV audience the correct way to cut vegetables.

A graduate of the Ball State Online master’s in career and technical education (CTE) and the family and consumer science track, Nic says Rachael Ray had caught his attention because he thinks his students and their families can relate to her.

“She takes complex recipes and makes them simple. She also takes simple recipes and makes them complex,” says Nic.

Show Was Opportunity to Advocate

His appearance on her show also gave him a national platform.

“The most exciting part of the experience was to advocate for our profession of family and consumer sciences,” he says. Nic told Rachael Ray viewers there are 27,000 FCS teachers in the country but that many more are needed.

“We are teaching essential life skills and preparing our students and community members to be successful as an individual, in their families, and ultimately as a part of their communities,” says Nic, who serves as adviser of his school’s Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) organization.

After Nic earned his bachelor’s in family and consumer sciences at Bridgewater College, also located in Shenandoah Valley, he began his teaching career and eventually sought a master’s program.

How a Virginia Teacher Found Ball State

Nic said several factors led him to Ball State Online: Professional contacts in Indiana vouched for the program. The program was less expensive, compared to others. And a couple professors were his designated points of contact for information.

For those who are considering CTE programs, this is one of program’s “most astounding features,” says Nic. “I engaged in prompt email conversations with them, and on several occasions they communicated with me via phone.”

Nic says he may have learned more about teaching than content knowledge through the program.

“Much of what I believed about CTE from undergrad was reconstructed mentally as I progressed through my master’s degree, he says. “I had to step back and complete my assignments as I was ‘thinking about the way I was thinking’ and about the way I engaged in teaching family and consumer science classes.”

Says Classmate Diversity Was Benefit

Nic said he benefited from the diversity of fields in which his online classmates worked.

“The opportunity to engage with classmates from a wide variety of perspectives was the ultimate highlight of the online platform,” he says. “Everyone shared a passion and a love for CTE. That transcends boundaries and enhanced the ability for us to grow together as an online community.”

Although Ball State Online programs require no visits to campus, Nic chose to make the eight-hour, 500-mile drive from Shenandoah County to Muncie, Ind., in the summer of 2019, to take the commencement walk. Even though he was seeing the university for the first time, he felt at home. “I felt like I had been on campus for years,” he says.

Sees Future as Curriculum Specialist

Nic plans to eventually pursue a position as a CTE curriculum specialist for a school district, noting that the Ball State curriculum encouraged collaboration with other areas such as the curriculum track.

Nic says the master’s has equipped him to help develop curriculum materials for the school division. “I’ve already had the opportunity to help write our district’s CTE class manual,” he says.

Learn more about our Master’s in Career and Technical education.

Nutrition and Dietetics Student Likes Program She Can Put on Pause

When discussing her graduate work, it is only fitting that Jenny Anttonen would use the term “digestible.”

A registered dietitian nutritionist, Jenny says that the Ball State master’s in nutrition and dietetics is digestible because it has allowed her to take one course—occasionally two—at a time.

Jenny, who earned the RDN credential in 2016, works as both an RD for Renovate Your Plate, an outpatient counseling center, and a nutrition care manager for Morrison Community Living, while pursuing her degree.

How Does She Keep Up?

“I can keep up with a full-time job, my friends and take classes, all because the degree is fully online,” says Jenny. “I can do my course work in the evenings and on weekends and am not held to a specific time that I have to drive to campus.”

She says another advantage is that “the online classroom allows me to learn at my own pace. I can pause lectures to take notes.” Online students of Ball State can access course content at any time and don’t have to log-in at specific times of the week.

But doing it all from home isn’t the only reason she likes the program.

“I chose Ball State,” she says, “because they were willing to accept nine of my 13 graduate credits I earned at another university for my dietetic internship.”

She Started with Smooth Admissions Process

Like other busy adult students who have careers and professional development obligations, Jenny was determined to find a program with minimal application steps. “Ball State made it a smooth and simple process,” she says.

She also likes the fact that grad school, in general, and the master’s in nutrition and dietetics, in particular, provide the opportunity to concentrate on subjects that deserve focused attention.

She points out semester-long courses in renal nutrition and exercise and sport nutrition.

“These topics would have been one quick chapter in one class at the undergraduate level,” she says.

Jenny Says Master’s is “Digestible”

She remembers her bachelor’s program as a whirlwind of information. “With my master’s, it’s my choice. I take one class at a time,” she says. “I feel like I am learning and taking in information in digestible amounts.”

Jenny feels the course work has given her confidence in her practice as an RDN.

“My goal is to help you learn to respect and trust your body by developing a healthy relationship to food,” she says. “I want to help you feel empowered to care for yourself in a more positive and compassionate way.”

Gives Faculty and Staff Credit

Jenny gives much credit to the program’s faculty and staff. “Our director [Carol Friesen] is absolutely amazing and even schedules phone calls outside of conventional working hours,” says Jenny, who graduates in 2020.

“I just can’t say enough great things about Ball State’s online master’s in nutrition and dietetics.”

Master’s, Licensure, Certificate Courses Stoke Leonhardt’s Love for Learning

Barely into his master’s in educational psychology, high school teacher Larry Leonhardt sensed the impact his course work was having on his classroom.

“Educational psychology is all about the science of how we learn,” says Leonhardt, who teaches psychology and history at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. “Understanding how learning works allowed me to sift through inefficient study techniques and have my students try more evidence-based practices.”

Larry’s bachelor’s work was in world history but when Lawrence North needed someone to teach the overflow of psychology students, he happily volunteered. Today, he teaches all of his school’s psych classes plus advanced placement (AP) history.

Mentor and Advisor to IB Students

He also mentors the school’s international baccalaureate (IB) students who are required to write extended essays their senior year to earn an IB diploma, granted to graduates of a rigorous, college prep curriculum.

Larry says the online delivery of the Ball State master’s in educational psychology gave him practical experience with online platforms to enhance his classroom instruction since Canvas is the platform used by his students.

He also liked the fact that the delivery format “followed pedagogical and cognitive principles consistently.”

Teacher and Coach of Teens

“I have a particular interest in adolescent developmental psychology because I spend a lot of time around teens,” says Larry, who has taught high school for more than 30 years. He’s also coached high school athletes on multiple volleyball teams during the same span of years.

After finishing his master’s in 2018, he began pursuing licensure in gifted and talented education, also through Ball State. Courses such as Socioemotional Needs of Gifted Students and Models and Strategies for Gifted Education also had a positive impact on AP and IB students who typically carry more demanding workloads and can, in his words, become “basket cases” when juggling academic obligations.

To support his psychology teaching in general, Larry is doing online course work for a graduate certificate in Neuropsychology.

Program Has Transformed His Teaching

“I love learning,” says Larry. “I just have a passion for it, and these courses stoke that as well as giving me ideas of how to enhance my own teaching and students’ learning. Sadly, I’m almost out of courses to take.”

Larry credits Ball State’s online programs with providing educators an opportunity to transform their teaching.

“I have pursued all my graduate credit in the last three years online, and really, that was the only practical way for me to do it,” says Larry. “I’d say I’ve changed my teaching more in the past three years than in the previous 30.

Coaching Education Program Was Part of Hargitt’s Playbook

Having coached high school football for 14 years, Rich Hargitt knows about the Friday night lights.

During the season, a typical Friday has him rising at 6 a.m. and teaching history classes throughout the day, followed by an evening schedule that includes not just the game but a team meal, a pre-game regimen, and post-game activities. For Coach Hargitt, the Friday night lights don’t go dim until around 2 a.m., following a careful review of game film.

That Friday night schedule—plus daily practices and weekend coaching meetings, not to mention summer leagues—is normal for coaches at the high school level, says Hargitt, who has worked as both head coach and offensive coordinator for schools in Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina, and South Carolina, producing school record holders in rushing and passing along the way.

“I now network through the Internet with coaches around the country on a myriad of topics that help me improve my coaching.”

Today, Hargitt is passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Nation Ford High School in Fort Mill, South Carolina. During his first season with the Falcons in 2011, his team advanced to the state’s AAA playoffs for the first time. His quarterbacks put up some of the best numbers in the state.

During his coaching stint at a North Carolina high school, Hargitt pursued Ball State University’s online master’s degree with a coaching education specialization, graduating in 2010.

“I wanted something to help me advance in the coaching world,” says Hargitt of his search for a master’s program.

Hargitt was a grad student when his professor, Dr. Kimberley Bodey, advised him to revise a paper and submit it for publication. The article eventually appeared in a physical education journal with Hargitt and his professor as co-author.

Hargitt credits Ball State faculty with giving him the drive to publish. Since graduation, he has contributed to coaching journals and produced a six-part DVD series, The Spread Wing-T Offense. He is co-author of a manual which details the spread wing-T. A second book, 101 Air Raid Plays, and four more videos are scheduled for release in the summer of 2012.

Having become an authority on the high school passing game, Hargitt joined some of the top college and high school coaches in the nation as a guest speaker at a 2012 Nike Coach of the Year Clinic in Charlotte, North Carolina. His presentation is included in the 2012 Nike Coach of the Year Clinic Notes.

“For all of this, I thank Ball State and Dr. Bodey and [program coordinator] Dr. Larry Judge for suggesting that I publish that first journal article,” he says. “I am not sure any of that would have happened without the encouragement that I received from the program.”

Hargitt also liked the fact that professors required students to collaborate with their online classmates. He says the interaction with coaching peers brought class material to life and put him in the habit of networking.

“I now network through the Internet with coaches around the country on a myriad of topics that help me improve my coaching,” he says.

Hargitt, who earned his bachelor’s in history education degree at Illinois State University, says the online format made it possible for him to pursue graduate education.

“It was not an option to drive to a campus and sit there for class,” says Hargitt, who, at the time, was teaching a full load of U.S. history classes, coaching football as well as track and field, and fulfilling the roles of husband and father.

And seeing his share of weeknight lights, too.

CTE Graduate Takes Career Planning to the Township

On January 2, 2019, Annette Johnson took her educator skills to the Pike Township Trustees Office.

A 2016 graduate of the Ball State University’s master’s degree in career and technical education (CTE), Annette Johnson was elected trustee in November, 2018, after working in the classroom for nearly 20 years.

While filling positions for the Marion County Sheriff Department, the Indiana State Department of Education, and Indianapolis Public Schools, she was also engaged in grass roots politics, directing campaigns for local candidates while also campaigning for her own.

But She Wanted to Do More

“I knew I wanted to do much more, and to do that I had to set my sights on higher office,” says Annette, a life-long community advocate.

Earlier in her career, she had set her sights on the adult and career education classroom.

She chose the teacher track of Ball State’s CTE master’s, which is offered fully online, thinking she would eventually teach in a technical, trade, or business school, and, ultimately, at a community college.

Online Format Fit Her Full Life

Because of her full schedule in both education and community service, the online delivery of the program had real appeal.

“It also seemed like it was designed to help you achieve your professional goals as quickly as possible,” says Annette of the 30-hour CTE program, which requires no thesis.

“I always wanted to work with students of diverse backgrounds and needs,” she says.

Instructor for Sheriff’s Department

Soon after earning her master’s, that wish came true when she was named senior adult education instructor for the Marion County Sheriff Department. There she worked with male and female inmates housed at the Marion County Jail, providing weekly instruction for GED test preparation.

“I had a high success rate,” she says. “It was an awesome job.”

Annette used the opportunity to share information about adult education programs that her students could use after their release date.

A Trustee Who Teaches the Township

Since being sworn in as trustee, she has continued to teach her township about career and technical education.

“As a trustee I come in contact with people who are having hardships and seeking better employment,” she says. “With my community connections, I am able to be a resource with employment information in the area of CTE.”

Her trustee role also gives her responsibility for the Pike Township Fire Department. The fire department partners with her in a program introducing high schoolers to the public safety careers of emergency medical technicians, paramedics, firefighters, and police officers.

Partnerships Build Opportunities

“In order to build opportunities for students and local industry,” she says, “the efforts of workforce development, economic development, and education must work hand in hand.”

Annette also has master’s degrees in adult and community education as well as executive development and public service though Ball State Online.

Olympic-Class Athlete Succeeds with World-Class Degree

When Erin Gilreath, a 2004 U.S. Olympian in the hammer throw, began to consider life after world competition, she wasn’t just looking for a “good” graduate program in coaching education. She wanted a master’s degree that carried the description of “world class.”

“Their (professors’) experience at some of the highest levels of the sport give students an insider’s perspective that they might not otherwise have.”

“The biggest draw for me to Ball State was Dr. Larry Judge,” says Gilreath, praising the coordinator of master’s in coaching education program at Ball State. “His reputation drew me to Ball State. He’s an outstanding teacher and a tireless researcher, and he sets high standards of performance for his students.”

Judge coached Division I schools for nearly 20 years and is considered the country’s premier coach in track and field throwing events. And he’s just one of a number of Ball State professors who have won national and international recognition in the field of coaching education.

“Their experience at some of the highest levels of the sport give students an insider’s perspective that they might not otherwise have,” says Gilreath, who today is assistant track and field coach at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana.

She liked the fact that the program, delivered 100 percent online, covered everything from physical preparation and conditioning to philosophy and ethics.

“Ball State has designed the curriculum to be thorough, covering the eight domains of coaching,” says Gilreath.

The eight domains are critical areas of coaching competency identified by the National Association of Sport and Physical Education (NASPE).

Gilreath says faculty members are attentive to student needs.

“They provided a ton of feedback on my assignments,” she says, “and if I had a question, they responded within 24 hours.”

She also had the opportunity to coauthor articles for publication with Judge.

“The résumé I built up with Dr. Judge during my tenure in the coaching program exceeded all of my expectations,” says Gilreath. “The research projects I worked on really helped me understand the science behind coaching.”

When Gilreath enrolled in the program in 2009, online study was ideal, since she was still training full time, coaching track part time at another university, and working at track camps during the summers.

Gilreath earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida with a major in Spanish and a minor in linguistics. As a Gator track and field star, she won a national title, winning the weight throw with the third best throw in collegiate history.

After college, Gilreath climbed in world rankings as a three-time USA indoor champion, two-time USA outdoor champion, 2004 U.S. Olympian, 2006 World Cup team member, and World Championship team member in 2005 and 2009. She established several world records in the indoor 20-pound weight throw and still holds the American record in the hammer throw.

Gilreath graduated with her master’s in coaching education in the spring of 2011. Just a few months later, she received her first full-time coaching offer from Indiana State.

“The Ball State experience has absolutely helped me achieve my coaching goals,” she says. “In terms of my coaching and my expectations, I feel like I’m giving my athletes a real Division I experience.”

Master’s Degree is a Life Changer for Haris Vrabac

Haris Vrabac knew Ball State University was the only school he wanted to earn a master’s degree from. He’ll even tell you that the University “holds a special place in his heart.” And for a good reason.

In high school, Haris didn’t take his education very seriously. In fact, he admits that he never imagined he’d go to college, let alone earn two degrees.

But when his skills on the football field turned into a scholarship opportunity with Ball State, his attitude about education began to shift.

“In sports, you can break a bone or tear a ligament at any moment and your career can be over,” says Haris. “I learned that if I wanted to be successful one day and be able to provide for my family, then I needed to grow up and get serious with my education.”

His hard work in the classroom paid off, earning him a bachelor’s in general studies with a concentration in organizational communications. This taste of educational success left him wanting more.

Haris had one year remaining on his football scholarship and he wasn’t about to let it go to waste. It was time to achieve another educational milestone.

Support Before the Start

One year is a tight timeframe, but the former student athlete was determined to earn his master’s degree and even more determined that it would be at Ball State.

“I had built a strong relationship with the University,” says Haris. “And I knew that it was the only place I wanted to further my education; the only place I fully trusted.”

Initially, Haris applied for a different one-year degree option at Ball State, but graduate admissions must have known he wasn’t entirely convinced the program was right for him. They advised him to speak with Dr. Allen Truell about the master’s in business education.

Not only did the online degree program offer the flexibility he wanted, but it also offered a customizable track that allowed Haris to take both general business as well as business education courses geared toward his career goals.

Haris was sold.

More Than a Master’s Degree

Haris now operates a transportation company in Detroit, which his father started years ago, and uses his degree daily. He particularly uses the skills that will help push the company into future growth such as customer relationship management, international sales and marketing, communication and problem solving.

“I believe I received a world-class business education,” says Haris. “The skills I gained gave me so much confidence and understanding of the business world.”

But a degree and skills are far from the only things Haris walked away with after graduation. He also walked away with a mentor and role model in Dr. Truell.

Haris credits Dr. Truell with always being there, “every step of the way.” From explaining course content until Haris fully understood to responding quickly to all communication to being there during a tough time, he could always count on Dr. Truell.

“Dr. Truell is not only a great professor, he is a great person who taught me a lot about not only business but life,” says Haris. “I am truly thankful for meeting him and taking his program. Out of all of my professors, he is one of the few who I still communicate with today. I would do anything to help give back to this program.”

Setting New Goals

With his master’s degree in hand, Haris is eyeing new goals within his career. He wants to become more involved in logistics and sales at this father’s company, and even has ambitions of becoming a business trainer or coach.

In addition to business skills, Haris also gained an understanding and appreciation for the educational side of business. Learning how to create lesson plans and use various learning styles to teach opened a new view to the business world he never knew was there.

Whatever he decides, he will be prepared to tackle these goals, thanks again to his master’s degree in business education.

“Going from someone who thought he would never make it to college to having a master’s degree is something that I am truly grateful for and proud of,” says Haris. “I can honestly say that earning my master’s degree in business education has changed my life.”

Exceptional Needs License Gives Teacher a Position with Impact

Bethany Cmar
Master’s in Special Education
Director of Exceptional Needs License

As a special education teacher in an elementary school classroom, Bethany Cmar encountered a student struggling to understand the nature of elapsed time. This youngster, for example, thought that in a competition, the higher time was the winning time.

It was only when she learned her student was a race fan that she could explain how, to win a race, drivers needed to record lower times.

“This confirmed my belief that knowing your students is imperative in teaching your students,” she says.

She Wanted a Bigger Classroom

The realization also pushed her toward a broader role in the field of education. “As a special education administrator,” says Cmar, “I knew my impact would reach many more students and their families.”

Because special education administration had been her goal as an undergraduate, Cmar began work on Ball State’s master’s in special education, offered fully online, while teaching elementary school which led her to the director of exceptional needs license, also provided fully online.

“The only apprehension I had was learning the expectations of new instructors and the layout of online content,” she says. “I didn’t really have difficulties with the technology.”

Touching those with Exceptional Needs

Today Cmar is assistant director of special services at Anderson Community Schools (ACS) in Anderson, Indiana, where her decisions can touch nearly 1,600 students, since 22 percent of the 7,000 students in the district receive special education services.

Her office serves students with speech impairments, cognitive disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, emotional disabilities, and those on the autism spectrum.

In 2017 she became assistant director of special services for ACS, having become a math and language arts special education teacher for an ACS middle school in 2013 and special education administrative designee in 2014.

“Ball State Prepared Me to Lead”

“Whether looking at curriculum, programming, or staffing, I feel Ball State University prepared me to be an educational leader,” says Cmar.

Although her position is mostly administrative—overseeing compliance, seeking funding from the Department of Education, providing training for staff, hiring educators, and assisting her director and teachers daily—soft skills are also necessary.

“Working with teachers, families, and other community members is the best part of my job,” says Cmar. “Getting to know students and their families requires being out in the community and letting students see you as a person, not just a school employee.”

Support Systems for Adult Students

She believes relationships with students and families helps educators “create a support system to help students achieve great goals.”

Cmar remembers having her own support system when she began work on her bachelor’s degree as a first-generation adult student, who was 30 years old, married, and the mother of two.

“Ball State professors always made me feel valued as a student, educator, and future educational leader,” she says. “There was never a time when I thought about quitting my journey.”

With Coaching Ed Degree, Athletic Trainer Finds Common Ground on Sidelines

Michelle Lamb, a 2012 graduate of Ball State’s online master’s in coaching education program, insists she was a nerd as an undergraduate. She claims to have never missed a lecture or a study session. Skipping class? Out of the question.

So returning to school without setting foot on campus was a major adjustment for Lamb, whose determination had led to two bachelor’s degrees from Purdue—one in athletic training and another in physical education, and both with honors.

“I’m a ‘need to hear it, need to see it, need to write it down’ kind of learner,” says Lamb, head athletic trainer at Northridge High School in Middlebury, Indiana. But here she was, embarking on a program that she feared would be a lonely experience.

She questioned whether there would be as much collegiality in the online classroom as she found in the on-site classroom of her bachelor’s degree days.

Then there were all those papers assigned by instructors she’d never met. “How much are they really reading?” she wondered. “Am I doing this just to be doing it? Do these professors even care?”

Answers came quickly for Lamb, who says she and her classmates were soon relying on each other’s expertise, calling, texting, and “Facebooking” to discuss projects, papers, and deadlines.

Meanwhile, professors were responding to her writing through discussion boards. Eventually she heard from Dr. Larry Judge, coordinator of the graduate athletic coaching education program and associate professor, who wanted to co-author a paper with her.

“I really felt like I was getting more one-on-one attention than I was back in those big lecture halls,” says Lamb.

Discovering Ball State’s online MA with a coaching specialization was providential for Lamb. She wanted a premier program and, because her position involves evenings and most weekends, she was thrilled to hear that this world-class program was offered 100 percent online.

For her northern Indiana high school, Lamb evaluates, treats, and rehabilitates the injuries for 600 student athletes, working with a dozen coaches and 16 student athletic trainers at 18 athletic events. She’s on duty for all home games and travels with some teams to away games.

While working on her master’s, Lamb could be found reading textbooks during down times at practices. Although most students take two classes each semester, one summer she took three classes—and worked two jobs—to make up for a semester when she enrolled in one.

“There were times when I had lots of balls in the air,” she says. “I didn’t always catch all of them but I tried.”

Lamb says the coaching education program has helped her relate to her coaches.

“It’s important for me to be on the same page as my coaches for strength and conditioning and injury prevention programs,” she says.

For Lamb, classmate interaction has continued since graduation. She still gets calls from fellow grads that are coaches and need a cell phone assessment of their players’ injuries.