Category Archives: Stars to Steer By

What can you do with a Humanities degree? We’ll show you! Here we tell you all about our Stars to Steer By series upcoming events, recaps of past events, and feature interviews with Ball State alumni who have gone on to be incredibly successful. The goal of the series is to encourage students who wish to or are currently pursuing a Humanities degree. Be sure to consider coming to the next event and find out what you can do with your degree!

Becca Wolfley: Marketer and Freelance Copywriter

Becca Wolfley graduated from Ball State University with a B.S. in Advertising (and a minor in Creative Writing) in 2015. After graduation, she worked as a content writer and manager for tech company Lesson.ly until May of 2016, then became the digital copywriter for The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis a month later. She continues to work as a creative for the museum’s marketing department while moonlighting as a freelance copywriter.

How did your major and minor lead to your current position? What series of steps did you make after college to get there, and what skills did you learn with us that helped you in that transition?

From my experience as an Ad major, many of my peers didn’t know how to tell a single story in various ways. I suppose that’s how I got here—I was one of the few that could. I thank my creative writing classes for that.

Screenwriting, poetry, English literature…the combination of these classes (and then some) taught me to write practically, write concisely, and interpret critically. Between literature courses and rhetorical analysis with Rai Peterson and abstract, post-modern poetry with Pete Davis, I got the hang of how to write for the perception I desired from multiple audiences without compromising creativity.

By the time I finished college, I had a portfolio of various types of work. In cover letters, it didn’t hurt to show the similarities between a commercial script and a screenplay, or how poetics play a big role in commercial scripting.
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John Maust: The Importance of Encouraging Writers

John Maust is president of Media Associates International (MAI), a publishing training agency based near Chicago, Illinois. John directs MAI’s global training programs to strengthen Christian publishing worldwide and to foster the development and publication of gifted local writers. John became president of MAI in 1998 after more than 20 years of experience as an editor, author and journalist. He graduated from Ball State University in 1975 with a B.A. in Literature, followed by an M.A. in Communications from Wheaton (IL) College Graduate School in 1978.

You have had such a varied career in publishing, including working for a newspaper and a magazine, as well as publishing three books of your own. In what ways did your English literature degree help to prepare you for these various endeavors?
John Maust 2.jpg

Within weeks of graduating from Ball State, I got a job as a 20-year-old editor of a small-town weekly newspaper in nearby Dunkirk, Indiana. Editorially, it was a one-person operation. So, for the first time in my life I had nightmares: would I find enough to fill the newspaper?

Fortunately, we never published any blank pages, and the work got done through long hours, hard work, a finely tooled typewriter, and more than a few prayers. I look at that experience as a time of real growth both as a person and as a communicator. They say you learn to write by writing, and that was surely the case at this newspaper.

Next came graduate school, followed by work as a magazine news editor, and then as a roving reporter and writer trainer based in Lima, Peru. There, this English major learned enough Spanish to meet and marry my beautiful wife, Elsa, of 32 years.

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Pat Grabill: A Love for the Written Word

Pat Grabill graduated from Ball State with an MA in English in 1968 and pursued a teaching career for 30 years. After retiring from teaching in 2004, she worked as a technical writer for Precisely Write in Indianapolis and also became President of the Watercolor Society of Indiana, where she made use of her English skills and her love of art to promote painting in Indiana.

preview-full-unnamedWhy English?

I’ve always been a good student. Not a great student—although I have had some great moments—but a good student. When I graduated from high school in 1961 (yes, I’m old), I really wanted to go to college, but my dad wasn’t sure. So he picked my school—Purdue—a great choice for me, as it turned out, and he also picked my major, elementary education. Not a good choice. I would have been a barely adequate elementary teacher, so I changed my major to Secondary Education/English. I graduated four years later with many, many semester hours in literature, writing, linguistics, and rhetoric and went on to spend 30 classroom years mostly at the high school level. I retired in 2004 having taught all secondary grade levels and loving it. While my undergrad degree was at Purdue (Boiler Up!), I studied for my MA degree at Ball State (Go, Cardinals!)  I taught freshman comp in the BSU English department as a TA while doing my own course work. I wrote my Master’s paper on “The Myth of the West in Steinbeck’s Fiction.” I remember it well. I wish I still had my copy. I had some great teachers at Purdue and at Ball State, and I am grateful for the time they took with me.

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Tara Olivero: Teacher at Homestead High School and Writer at Book Riot

Tara Olivero is a teacher at Homestead High School in Fort Wayne and a contributing writer at Book Riot. She graduated from Ball State in 2014 with a degree in English Education. In this post, she discusses her job as a high school English teacher and how her time at #bsuenglish helped her find her passion for teaching.

How would you describe your job?

My main career will always be my teaching career – I’m in my third year of teaching in Fort Wayne at Homestead High School. As any other high school teacher knows, it’s an exhausting job but one that’s personally satisfying beyond all compare. I also have two side-gigs outside of teaching. I’m a contributor at Book Riot, which I really love because it gives me a platform for my own writing. And my “purely for fun” job is that I work at an Escape Room in Fort Wayne on the weekends; I also write blog posts for the Escape Room’s website.

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Hold Onto Your Passion: Advice from Audra Dittlinger

Stars to Steer By presents Audra Dittlinger, a Marketing Content Manager and Client Experience Director. Ms. Dittlinger began her journey at Ball State in 2001 and officially graduated in 2014 with a degree in English Studies.   

How would you describe your job?Audra Dittlinger

I would describe my job as fast paced, exciting, and unpredictable. It’s a mixture of editing, brainstorming, and creating some amazing content for a start-up company that is growing quicker than we ever thought possible!

Stars to Steer By: TESOL Information and Next Semester's Events!

panelThe panel for this event included Nuha Alsalem, Tiffany Ellis, Leslie Erlenbaugh, Shane Lanning, and Matthias Raess. Each speaker had valuable information regarding their experience with teaching abroad and also teaching English as a second language. Students interested in teaching English to non-native speakers should check out the TESOL minor. The minor in TESOL offers the skills and knowledge necessary for teaching English to non-native speakers of English both domestically and internationally. If you are looking to teach abroad, you should look at the Fulbright Scholarship.

If you missed out on the last Stars to Steer By event this semester, have no fear! We’ve got a whole lot more coming to you in the spring semester! Our first event entitled “English Majors Can Make Millions (for Good Causes) with speakers Cheri O’Neill and Bruce Hetrick is scheduled for Tuesday, January 31 at 5 pm in Bracken 104.

Stars to Steer By Presents Paula Langteau

Paula Langteau, newly named interim dean at Northwest Technical College, has almost 30 years of higher education experience. She began her graduate education at Ball State, completing her Master’s degree and her doctoral coursework in English here. Keep reading to learn more!
Paula Langteau

Tell us about your Humanities degree. What was it in? When you first got to the university, did you always want to study the Humanities, or was there something else at first?

I received my Master’s degree from Ball State University in English, and I also completed my doctoral coursework in English at BSU. I knew from the time I was a preteen that I wanted to teach English. Following my undergraduate years, I decided to pursue a graduate education in order to teach Composition and Literature at the university level, and I picked BSU because my favorite undergrad professor had gone there. My major and career choice were driven by my joint passions for helping others and for the strength and beauty of the language, in general, and of narrative, in particular.

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Lisa Kemp: Partner Relationship Manager at Ontario Systems

Lisa Kemp is a partner relationship manager at Ontario Systems in Muncie. She graduated from the Ball State English Department in 1990. In this post, she discusses her work and how it connects to her studies in the department.

Lisa Kemp (STSB)

How would you describe your job?

I am currently a partner relationship manager with product management responsibilities at Ontario Systems, LLC in Muncie, IN. My job involves managing the day-to-day partnership activities for more than thirty partners. Most of these partners provide data services to our mutual customers. I also manage the product that provides our customers access to these services.

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Stars to Steer By: Recap and Upcoming Events

Stars to Steer By is an event series hosted by the English Department to help Humanities majors find their way. The next event is November 29th in BL 104.

On October 26, we hosted our most recent Stars to Steer By event, “Personal Branding: Monica.jpgUncovering Your Authentic Self,” in BL 104. Monica Scalf, founder of The Playground Group, was the main speaker at the event.

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Monica Scalf, Owner of The Playground Group

monicascalf.jpgStars to Steer By is our monthly event series focused on helping #bsuenglish students make the best of their degrees after graduation. This month, #bsuenglish alum and owner of The Playground Group Monica Scalf will be presenting “Personal Branding: Uncovering Your Authentic Self” on Wednesday, 10/26 at 6:30 P.M. in Bracken Library 104. Below, Monica shares the career journey that led her to developing The Playground Group.

I studied Secondary Education and English while at Ball State. I also have a Master of Arts in English from Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH. When I first enrolled as a Freshman at BSU, I thought I wanted to major in telecommunications. After my freshman year, I realized I wanted to teach and study English, so I switched my major. I had always loved reading and writing, and this major was a natural fit for me.

I currently run my own corporate consulting and training business, The Playground Group, LLC. It’s called The Playground Group because we teach engaging and interactive workshops in corporate settings that are fun, but not corny. Employees get to “play” and learn at the same time. We specialize in teaching Team Building, Productivity, Personal Branding, and Personal Effectiveness.

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