Tag Archives: Ball State University

Stars to Steer By Presents Ethan Johnson: A Long Journey

Ball State University alum Ethan Johnson discusses his travels after graduation and his future aspirations as he looks to the journey ahead. He graduated from Ball State in 2013 with a BA in English Literature and Classical Cultures. 

In the spring semester of my freshman year at Ball State, I saw Avenue Q at Emens Auditorium. I laughed along with the other audience members at the opening song, wondering “What Do You Do with a BA in English?” thumbnail_ethan-headshotI was laughing at the puppets, but I was also laughing at myself: I knew in three short years I would be in that position myself.

I came into Ball State knowing I wanted to be an English major. I loved books, so why wouldn’t I major in literature? When I told people what I was studying, especially after I added my major in Classical Cultures, they would inevitably ask me, “So what do you plan on doing with that?”

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Come to the Stars to Steer By Lecture Series!

starstosteerbytalkThe Stars to Steer By Lecture Series was created in order to help students pursuing a Humanities Degree find their way after graduation. 

Calling all Humanities Majors! Do you feel worried that you won’t be able to find a career in your field? Are you tired of people telling you that your degree is useless? Have no fear, the “Stars to Steer By” lecture series is here! The Ball State University English Department wants you to know that there are many things you can do with a Humanities Major.

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Ace Howard: An English Major Working in the Software Field

Former English major Ace Howard describes his career in the software business. 

How would you describe your job?

I’m a technical writer for a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company.

I would describe my job as the bridge between technical information and users. I sit down with subject matter experts (SMEs) and translate their high level of knowledge into terms that our audience can easily understand. Part of this process involves deciding which medium works best for the message (shout-out to Marshall McLuhan). My work could take the form of software documentation, white papers, case studies, social media, or blog posts. Because I have a background in web development, I’m also responsible for updating the company website.

Some of this stuff sounds complicated (it can be), but all the writing and problem solving makes the job a fun and rewarding experience.

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Summer Good News

Summer has been a busy time for Ball State faculty, students, and alumni alike! Read more to find out what these Ball State affiliates have been up to.

Prof. Katy Didden earned a fellowship to attend the prestigious Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference in Middlebury, VT. She will be co-facilitating a workshop with poet Alan Shapiro, giving a craft lecture on Marianne Moore and the Great Distance Poem, and giving a reading.

Dr. Paul Ranieri published a chapter titled “Standing the Test of Time: Liberal Education in a Jesuit Tradition” in Traditions of Eloquence: The Jesuits and Modern Rhetorical Studies, edited by Cinthia Gannett and John C. Brereton, published early this summer by Fordham University Press.

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English Undergrad Brittany Means: “My First Publication Made Me Feel Like Brad Pitt”

Last year I took Pete Davis’ poetry class, and for my final packet I decided to experiment a little bit. While I was at work, I wrote something that was kind of flow-of-consciousness, played around with the format a little bit, and titled it “Books About.” After I turned it in, I abandoned it in the poetry folder on my laptop and forgot about it.

Over the summer, I attended the Midwest Writers Workshop. There were contests being held for fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Since I had already sent in a fiction piece for something else, I rummaged through my laptop and found “Books About” for the Manny Contest. Knowing that the number of attendees would be in the hundreds, I wasn’t sure about my chances for winning anything, but I went ahead and submitted it. During all of the different events and classes, it sort of slipped my mind that there even was a contest. When they called my name during the award ceremony, I almost had a heart attack. I went up and collected my award and then sat down, feeling pretty darn satisfied with myself. When they called my name again for the overall best manuscript, or R. Karl Largent Writing Award, I was so shocked that it took me a few moments before I could get out of my chair to go get the second award. It was really a shock to me that I could win amidst all of the other wonderful writers attending. There’s a picture of this moment on Cathy Day’s blog, and it looks like I just heard a great joke.

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Interview with Recent Alum Tyler Gobble on Living the Writer’s Life and Winning a Book Award


Tyler Gobble graduated from Ball State University in May 2011. He is a multi-hat wearer for Magic Helicopter Press and host of the Everything Is Bigger reading series at Malvern Books in Austin, TX. He has plopped out four chapbooks, with two others called Other People’s Poems (Radioactive Moat) and Collected Feelings with Layne Ransom (Forklift INK) forthcoming, and his first full-length will be out from Coconut Books in the fall of 2014. He likes disc golf, tank tops, and bacon, and yes, in that order. Feel free to mosey a message over to gobble.tyler@gmail.com for whatever reasons.

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Dr. Lyn Jones and the Indiana Writers Center Featured on the BSU Website

Professor Lyn Jones is the Education Outreach Director at the Indiana Writers Center (IWC). Over the summer, Jones and Ball State Student interns worked on a project called Building a Rainbow that focused on helping at-risk youth write memoirs. Below is a link to the Ball State University website featuring a story on  Jones, the interns, and the project.

Visit this link to read the full story.

Guest Post: Kris Weaver on Creative Writing in the Community

At the beginning of the semester, I seriously considered dropping English 409. I found out it wasn’t like any ordinary English class I’d previously taken; this one would force me to take part in something bigger than myself. It wasn’t something I could just shuffle through, writing along the way, reading the material, and making the grade. For all my doubts in the beginning though, I’m really glad I stuck with it.

What scared me the most was the idea of meeting with a partner on five separate occasions, compiling meeting reports, and eventually writing something about that partner’s life for the rest of the world to read. In addition, I learned that my partner would have a disability. That knowledge left me feeling even more nervous than before: what if I accidentally said something offensive? Were there protocols I would need to know in order to work with this person? I had no idea what to expect.

Meeting my partner for the first time did a lot to put me at ease. Her disability was a mental one. She got confused sometimes, repeated herself a lot, and liked to talk, which ended up being a good thing. I met with her a total of six times and learned a lot about people like her by just being around her. She talked about her family and her friends, about her favorite television shows and books.

The goal of the class is to help give voice (in written form) to those who aren’t usually heard. For some of us in the class, this meant being partnered with kids from a local after-school tutoring center. For the rest of us, it meant pairing up with six women residing in a home in Muncie where they can live in their own social environment away from the normal pressures of the world.

I won’t presume to speak for those who were partnered with the kids at the tutoring center and their experiences. What I do know about my experience is that taking this class was rewarding in more ways than one. Not only does it teach writers to work collaboratively, but it helps the community form bonds that would normally be unattainable. This class accomplished its goal: people’s stories were told, and that’s all anyone really wants out of life—to know that they are heard.

Guest Post: Whittley Lewis on Her Transition to Law School

I’ve had a lot of exciting things happen in the last few months: I was accepted at three law schools, was offered scholarships to attend law school, and graduated with a degree in English from Ball State.  Yep, I’m an English major going into something other than teaching or publishing—the two occupations family and friends assume my major is good for.

My emphasis was in Rhetoric and Writing, which means I’ve learned how to analyze other people’s arguments to find their reasoning strategies, strengths, and weaknesses.  I chose the major because writing and research interest me, and I was hoping that someone at Ball State could show me how to make a career out of doing what I love.  As it turns out, my professors in the Rhetoric and Writing program and an advisor from the Career Services Office helped point me in the direction of law school.

I never thought I would want to be a lawyer because all I could imagine was defending criminals.  Criminal defense is a noble profession, but not exactly my cup of tea.  Then I did some research and found out that for every hour a lawyer spends in the courtroom, there are ten hours researching precedents and writing analyses and opinions.  There are also lawyers who don’t ever have to go into a courtroom, but whose job it is to do all of the background research for a judge.  Moral of the story: there is a lot you can do with a law degree and the basic skills required are the same ones you need as an English student.

When I realized this was a direction I could really enjoy, it was time to apply to law schools.

First, I had to take the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test).  Turns out, being an English major is a great advantage for taking that test.  It’s a six-hour test that involves five sections of questions: reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, logical reasoning, an essay, and a random section of experimental questions.  We practice at least half of those every day as English majors.  Reading comprehension and essay writing are kind of second nature to us.

The Logical Reasoning section may sound a little scary, but the skills you need for that section are skills very familiar to English students too.  According to the LSAC.org (Law School Admissions Council), this section tests students’ “ability to determine main points of arguments,… ability to find relevant information within a text, [and] ability to analyze and evaluate arguments.” Hey, we can do that!  The only other skill tested in this section is the “ability to apply logic to abstract concepts,” so that was one thing I had to study.

You can also master the Analytical Reasoning section—which is also referred to as ‘logic games’—if you just learn to read what the question is actually asking.  Analytical reasoning on the LSAT is like advanced reading comprehension mixed with common sense and math skills.

To apply to law school I also had to fill out a common application and write a personal statement. These are pretty standard, but I can say that I felt confident that my paperwork would stand out.

My English degree helped me apply to law school, but I also believe that it will help make me a great lawyer.  I chose my major because I love language—there is a power to our words that people often don’t take the time to realize.  I am good at reading texts and analyzing them. In fact, I’m even one of those nerds who thinks research can be fascinating and enjoyable.  Now that I’m embarking on the next step, I’m picking my path for much the same reasons.  My love of language, passion for helping people, and background in English have shaped me into a clear communicator; someone who can analyze not only texts and speeches, but also situations; a researcher; and someone who understands the power of language.  So I head off to law school with all of these weapons in my arsenal.

I never thought I would end up here, but I am confident that I can succeed in my new field because I picked a major I loved in college and worked my tail off at it, and happened to acquire some pretty amazing professional skills along the way.

Department of English Awards Ceremony Winners

Last month the English Department honored undergraduate and graduate students at the annual Awards Ceremony with over $13,000 in scholarships/awards.  See the list of recipients below.

Leslie & Patrick Ballard Scholarship

Kaitlyn Thompson

Elizabeth Martin Scholarship

Jeremy Carnes            Collette Herald

Meredith Sims            Michele Weldy

Dr. Janet Ross English Studies Scholarship

Tiffany Ellis

Frances Mayhew Rippy Graduate Scholarship

Nathan Myers            Monica Robison

Voss English Research Award

Tara Dickerson          Stephen Jones

Carol Chalk Memorial Scholarship

Emma Baumann

Writing Center Tutor of the Year

Tyler Gobble

Matt Jones Creative Writing Scholarship

Elysia Smith

Barry Wright English Scholarship

Kelly Stacy

Department Honors in English and Academic Honors in Writing

Megan Byard            Phillip Call

Tyler Gobble             JD Mitchell

Madeline Witek

Outstanding Graduating Senior

Phillip Call

Congratulations to all our winners!