May 2023: Two graduating seniors—Jess Melvin and Madison Pickering—will be spending the coming academic year abroad, as recipients of Fulbright U.S. Student Awards! Both have been selected for English Teaching Assistantships (ETAs), to help students in their host countries develop English language skills and to serve as cultural ambassadors between nations. Two other graduating seniors—Bernadette Harding and Emma Mikkelson—are alternates for ETA positions.

Jess Melvin, who just completed a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, with minors in French and fashion, will be an ETA in South Korea for 11 months. There, in addition to helping children or adolescents develop their skills in English, she’s also eager to explore the K-pop music scene and to volunteer in the community where she is placed.

Jess’s many activities in both research and extracurricular activities at Ball State have spanned her interests in anthropology, fashion, and music, including her Honors College thesis, on K-pop styling, and her anthropology senior thesis, an ethnography of fashion. This year she has been Collection Assistant for Ball State’s Beeman Historical Costume Collection.

“The Fulbright ETA grant gives me the opportunity to do two things I love: helping others and immersing myself in a culture,” said Jess, a native of Fort Wayne, Ind. “South Korea’s music and fashion scenes are unmatched, so as both a fan and someone who wants to work as a stylist in the music industry, I’ll make some really great memories that will inform my future projects!”

Madison Pickering will be an ETA in the Slovak Republic, where she’ll work with high school students. She also plans to explore theatre and music during her time in the country and interview Slovak artists for “Women with Words,” a podcast she founded and hosts.

Madison, who is from Anderson, Ind., just completed a bachelor’s degree in theatre directing, with a minor in American Sign Language. At Ball State she has been assistant director or director of several theatre productions and an active member of the BSU Theatre Student Advisory Committee Outreach, among other campus and community activities focused on performing arts. She plans to pursue a career in theatre directing, eventually teaching at the university level.

“My mentors always talk about the importance of artists filling our souls so we can turn around and give to other people,” said Madison. “I’m excited to see how living in a new place with different culture, traditions, and people will help me grow as an artist and a human being. I believe that my joy for exchanging cultures and my passion for mentoring students will help me be an effective ETA.”

Bernadette Harding (left), who graduated with a major in theatre (acting) and minor in French, was named an alternate for the ETA program in Luxembourg. Emma Mikkelson (right), who completed a major in theatre education and minor in technical theatre, was named an alternate for the ETA program in Bulgaria. Two other BSU semi-finalists in this year’s Fulbright competition were Delaney Fritch and Madeleine Mills-Craig.

The U.S. Student Fulbright program is sponsored by the U.S. State Department and is aimed at increasing mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and those of nearly 140 countries. This year, approximately 2,100 applicants nationwide were selected, based on the quality and feasibility of their proposals, their academic and professional qualifications, and their potential to serve as effective cultural ambassadors.


May 2023: Architecture major Asher Lafferty-McGill has been awarded a Phi Kappa Phi Study Abroad Grant to support nearly three weeks of study this summer in France, Spain, and Italy! Asher, who has just finished the fourth year of her five-year architecture program, also has a minor in interior design and is a student in the Honors College.

She will be participating in a program led by two Ball State architecture faculty members, with a focus on both the history and future of architecture in Western Europe. “This program will teach me so much about Western European architecture that can’t be taught in a classroom,” said the Frankfort, Mich., native. “We will be seeing architectural details that photos can’t capture, walking the paths that historical figures once walked, and talking with local architects about what drives their passion for design.”

Asher is one of 125 undergraduates nationwide selected for the grant, based on academic achievement, campus and community service, and relevance of applicants’ travel plans to their academic and career goals. “This scholarship will not only help me achieve my dream of traveling across Europe, but it will enable me to see the architecture I’ve been studying for years,” she commented.

The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi (PKP) is the nation’s oldest and most selective multidisciplinary collegiate honor society. Ball State established a PKP chapter in 2003.


April 2023:  Junior Griffin Thomas has been awarded a Goldwater Scholarship, the nation’s most prestigious scholarship for undergraduates planning to pursue research-focused careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, or mathematics) fields.  

Griffin, who has a major in biology and minor in chemistry, transferred to Ball State from Ivy Tech Community College in January 2022. After completing a Ph.D. in marine biology, he plans to launch a research career focused on the genetic engineering of marine invertebrates, to aid in their resistance and adaptation to factors caused by climate change, like ocean acidification.

“It is humankind’s responsibility to implement strategies to mitigate negative effects on keystone species,” said Griffin, who is from Anderson, Ind.  “I want to work to protect the beautiful diversity of life we have here on Earth.” 

Griffin has been working in the lab of Dr. Wei Shi, in the Department of Chemistry, since February 2022, and this summer he hopes to conduct marine biology research through an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates).  At Ivy Tech, Griffin was vice-president of Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society, and at Ball State he is involved in The Wildlife Society and Genetics Club.

Griffin is the fourteenth Ball State student to receive the Goldwater Scholarship, along with nine others who have received honorable mention. He was one of 413 sophomores and juniors selected this year, from a pool of 1,267 students nominated by colleges and universities nationwide. 

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation was established by Congress in 1986 to serve as a living memorial to honor the lifetime work of Senator Barry Goldwater.  By providing scholarships to college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in STEM fields, the Goldwater Foundation is helping ensure that the U.S. is producing the number of highly-qualified professionals the nation needs in these critical fields.  For more information, visit


March 2023:  Two Ball State freshmen have been selected as finalists for Fulbright U.K. Summer Institutes! The program offers freshmen and sophomores from U.S. colleges and universities fully-funded opportunities to explore the culture, heritage, and history of the United Kingdom while experiencing higher education at a U.K. university.  

Olivia Carolan, who has a major in pre-medical preparation and a minor in Chinese, hopes to participate in the three-week Queen’s University Belfast Institute, in Northern Ireland.   

Reva Patil, who also has a major in pre-medical preparation and is in the Honors College, hopes to spend four weeks in the Global Sustainability Institute at the University of Exeter, in southwest England.   

Olivia and Reva will be interviewed in late April and learn soon after if they’ve been selected. This year, five institutes are being offered. 


March 2023: Two Ball State students, both sophomores in the Honors College, have been awarded Critical Language Scholarships (CLS), which will provide two months of intensive language study this summer! A third sophomore was named a program alternate.

Lindsey Hayse, who has a major in English education and minors in both English as a new language and Spanish, will participate in the online CLS Spark program for beginning Chinese (Mandarin). Through online classes and activities facilitated by native speakers at a CLS partner institution in Taiwan, Lindsey will develop language and cultural knowledge that will support her career plans to become an English teacher in Taiwan.

“Learning the language will be invaluable for me, as a professional in the language-learning field,” said the New Salisbury, Ind., native. “It will help me better connect with future students and community members in Taiwan.”

Scott Webster, who has majors in economics and finance and a minor in accounting, is now a two-time recipient of the CLS. The Fishers, Ind., resident will be studying intermediate Turkish at the TÖMER Institute in Ankara, Turkey, this summer. His language study and cultural immersion there will capitalize upon his experiences in Turkey last summer, when he was awarded the CLS for beginning Turkish.

“The Critical Language Scholarship will help me build language and cultural skills that can later be applied to my professional career,” said Scott, who plans to pursue a career with the U.S. State Department or other government agency.

Another Honors College sophomore, Mackensie Shears, was named an alternate for the CLS Spark program for Arabic. With a life science education major and minors in Spanish and English as a New Language, Mackensie plans to teach English abroad after college, before focusing on a career as a teacher of life sciences and wildlife biology.

The Critical Language Scholarship is a State Department program that facilitates two months of intensive summer language study in 14 languages considered essential to the United States’ engagement with the world. This year, of the more than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students nationwide who applied for the scholarship, 500 were selected.

Lindsey and Scott are the latest of 10 Ball State awardees of Critical Language Scholarships over the past 15 years.


February 2023: Tobi Lott, a sophomore computer science major, has been named a semi-finalist for the SMART (Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation) Scholarship program. Tobi, who is from Farmland, Indiana, also has a French minor and is completing the Honors College curriculum.

SMART Scholarships are funded by the Department of Defense (DoD), to support undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in any one of 21 different STEM disciplines. The program aims to increase the number of civilian scientists and engineers working at DoD laboratories.

Selected candidates receive full tuition and an annual living stipend up to five years, a summer internship at a DoD site, and guaranteed civilian employment with the DoD after graduation. Tobi is especially interested in sustainable software engineering, to find new ways to conserve energy.

SMART Scholarship recipients will be notified in late spring.


February 2022: Congratulations to the following BSU seniors (pictured below), who’ve made it to the semi-finalist round for the U.S. Student Fulbright program!


Final decisions about recipients will be made by host country committees and announced later this semester.

· Delaney Fritch (majors in political science and history, minor in Spanish) for an English Teaching Assistantship in Colombia

· Bernadette Harding (major in acting, minor in French) for an English Teaching Assistantship in Luxembourg

· Jess Melvin (major in anthropology, minors in French and fashion) for an English Teaching Assistantship in South Korea

· Emma Mikkelson (teaching major in theatre, minor in technical theatre) for an English Teaching Assistantship in Bulgaria

· Madeleine Mills-Craig (majors in history and public relations, minors in Asian studies and Chinese) for graduate study in Asia-Pacific studies at National Chengchi University in Taiwan

· Madison Pickering (major in theatre, minor in American sign language), for an English Teaching Assistantship in the Slovak Republic


January 2023: First-round decisions have been made for the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS), and three BSU students have been named semifinalists! They are among more than 5,000 applicants this year whose applications are now underdoing second-round reviews. Recipients, who will spend 8-10 weeks in intensive language and cultural immersion this coming summer, will be announced in March.

Lindsey Hayse is a sophomore in the Honors College and College of Sciences and Humanities, with a major in English education and minors in Spanish and English as a new language. If selected, she will study beginning Chinese (Mandarin) online this summer through the CLS Spark program, a virtual learning option for three selected languages.

Mackenzie Lyseng is a senior art major in the College of Fine Arts, with a concentration in animation. She is a semifinalist for advanced beginning Korean, which would take her to Busan or Gwangju, South Korea, this summer.

Scott Webster is a sophomore in the Honors College and Miller College of Business, with majors in economics and finance and a minor in accounting. Scott received the CLS last year for beginning Turkish, and he is now a semifinalist for intermediate Turkish, which he would study in Ankara, Turkey, this summer.

Chinese, Korean, and Turkish are three of 14 “critical languages” offered through CLS, allowing selected U.S. college and university students to study languages and cultures considered essential to the United States’ engagement with the world. The CLS Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and administered by American Councils for International Education


January 2023: Four BSU undergraduates have been awarded Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarships for abroad: Brian Cruz (Spain), Sarah Olsen (France), Caelyn Reese (Costa Rica), and Jayla Thompson (Italy).

The scholarship awards up to $5,000 to support undergraduates who are studying abroad. Upon their return to the U.S., all Gilman Scholarship recipients are required to carry out a follow-on service project that helps promote international education and understanding.

With the support of his Gilman scholarship, Brian Cruz will intern with an architectural firm in Barcelona, Spain, for eight weeks this summer. Brian, who is from Indianapolis, is in the third year of Ball State’s five-year architecture program.

“This experience will allow me to interact with clients and employers in an international context, and it will better prepare me for when similar opportunities arise later in my career,” said Brian. “I will be doing designs for complicated issues and have to rethink every problem in a unique and effective way.”

For his follow-on service project, Brian will document his internship experience with biweekly videos, then share them with BSU architecture students and other audiences via YouTube.

Sarah Olsen, of Indianapolis, is using her Gilman Scholarship to support study in Chambéry, France, during spring semester, at the Université of Savoie Mont Blanc. The Honors College sophomore has majors in political science (international studies) and journalism (news writing), with a minor in French.

“The Gilman Scholarship finally gives me the opportunity to experience what I’ve dreamed of since I was nothing but a wide-eyed, curious, and (only somewhat) overzealous child,” said Sarah. “The incredibly rich and diverse experience is the perfect stepping stone towards becoming a public servant later in life.”

Sarah’s follow-on service project will take her to her former high school’s speech and communications classroom, where she will give an interactive presentation to students that immerses them in the experiences she had in France.

Sophomore Caelyn Reese will spend a month this summer in San José, Costa Rica, where she will study and experience the culture through a homestay. The Alexandria, Ind., native has a major in Spanish and minors in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) and linguistics and global communication.

“Studying abroad will help me to better my Spanish skills and my understanding of Latinx culture,” said Caelyn. “I would like to become an English as a second language teacher, and this opportunity will help me learn how to navigate different countries.”

For her follow-on service project, Caelyn will give an interactive presentation for her BSU residence hall, with Costa Rican food and cultural artifacts from her travels. She also plans to give a presentation in her former high school.

Jayla Thompson, a junior with a major in social work and minor in criminal justice & criminology, will study in Italy for a month this summer. There she’ll take a course in cross-cultural psychology.

“Italy’s culture has always fascinated me. I want to take in everything and bring my memories with me for the rest of my life,” said Jayla. “Having this opportunity is going to teach me so much more about the world and myself, and gaining cultural competence within social work is an important part of the field.”

For her follow-on service project, Jayla intends to write an article for her hometown newspaper, in Elwood, Ind., sharing experiences and photos from her time in Italy. She also hopes to share videos through the newspaper’s website.

The federally-funded Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program provides up to $5,000 to U.S. undergraduate students pursuing academic studies abroad, in order to better prepare them to assume significant roles in an increasingly global economy and interdependent world.


August 2022: Payton Drefcinski, a May 2022 graduate of Ball State University and the Honors College, has received a Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship! Nationwide, 62 fellowships were awarded by Phi Kappa Phi (PKP)—the nation’s oldest and most selective multidisciplinary collegiate honor society—to members who are entering their first year of graduate or professional study. Each PKP chapter may select one candidate to compete for the national awards.

Payton completed majors in sociology and criminal justice & criminology, graduating summa cum laude with a 4.00 GPA. This fall she will enter the interdisciplinary MA program in Human Development Research and Policy at NYU. Her career goal is to “become a leader in non-profits centering on female victimization and racial discrimination, educating our society on current social inequalities and directing information into action for achieving social justice.”

As a Ball State student, Payton was an accomplished researcher on a diverse range of social justice topics, through two Honors Undergraduate Fellowships. She also served as a leader in several campus organizations and was a frequent volunteer and intern for community organizations. “Through action informed by knowledge, I have found ways to collaborate with communities and advocate for social change and progress,” said the Mason, Ohio, native. That collaboration immersed her in both the Muncie and Detroit communities.

Earlier this year, Payton was awarded the Provost’s Prize, Ball State’s highest honor, given to one senior who has combined high academic excellence with other opportunities to form a unique educational experience.


July 2022: Karleigh Conner, a member of the women’s outdoor track & field, indoor track & field, and cross country teams, has received an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship! She was one of only 21 female spring sport athletes nationwide to receive the $10,000 scholarship, recognizing her accomplishments in academics, athletics, extracurricular activities, and community service.

In spring 2021, Karleigh graduated summa cum laude with an undergraduate major in psychology and minors in Spanish, interpersonal relations, psychology of human development, and autism spectrum disorders. She is now about to begin the second year of Ball State’s combined MA/Specialist in Education in School Psychology program. In her career, Karleigh plans to become a school psychologist, with the eventual goal of becoming director of special education for a school district.

“For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a school psychologist,” said the Maineville, Ohio, native. “With the help from the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, I will be able to spend the next two years working toward that goal while being fully invested and committed to becoming the best student advocate I can become. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue my education in graduate school and learn all that I can about supporting students with disabilities.”

Outside of her academic and career pursuits, Karleigh has dedicated more than 1,000 hours to serving and leading others through various organizations, including Training U Farther & Faster (T.U.F.F.) Camp, Fellowship of Christian Athletes/Athletes in Action, and Ball State’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee, among others. As a long-distance runner, Karleigh holds the fourth-fastest time in Ball State’s record books for the outdoor 800m


July 2022: Congratulations to Taylor Bias, a rising sophomore and Honors College student, who was awarded an ACS (American Chemical Society) Scholarship earlier this summer! Taylor, who has a major in chemistry (with a concentration in biochemistry), is one of 130 scholarship recipients selected nationwide this year.

The Elkhart resident participated in Ball State’s Teacher-Scholars program as a freshman, assisting with research in the lab of Dr. Mary Konkle, Assistant Professor of Chemistry. This summer, Taylor continued that research with support from the Indiana STEM LSAMP (Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation) program.

“I’m thankful for the undergraduate research experiences in chemistry I am having at Ball State and am thrilled about the skills I’m gaining in order to be competitive nationally,” said Taylor. After completing graduate studies in biochemistry, she intends to enter a career in drug discovery. “This career will always have new challenges for me, allowing me to be creative, problem solve, and grow on a daily basis,” she added.


June 2022: Five BSU undergraduates were selected for Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships for study abroad this summer and fall! The scholarship awards up to $5,000 to support undergraduates who are studying abroad. Upon their return to the U.S., all Gilman Scholarship recipients are required to carry out a follow-on service project that helps promote international education and understanding.

Two of the selected students have accepted the scholarship. Unfortunately, three others were forced to decline the award because their study abroad plans were cancelled, due to COVID.

Accepting the Gilman Scholarship are the following:

Brittany Arendt, a rising senior from Fishers, Ind., will spend fall semester in Grenoble, France, taking courses in language, literature, theatre, and culture. As a French education major (with a minor in Chinese), Brittany wants to use the experience to build her language and cultural expertise, as she prepares for a career as a French teacher.

“Being in an authentic setting and practicing French every day has been the dream for me for the past few years, and I’m ecstatic for it to become reality,” said Brittany. “I plan to spend my free time exploring as much of the country as possible, making friends, and enjoying the culture in the Alps. I am dedicated to making this experience as educational and transformative as possible, to prepare myself for my teaching career.”

For her follow-on service project, Brittany plans to collaborate with Ball State’s chapter of Alpha Mu Gamma (a national foreign language honor society), to create a newsletter and deliver an information session about her experiences in France. Her goal will be to help other foreign language students at Ball State navigate the process of finding and applying for study abroad programs.

Emma Mikkelson, who has a major in theatre education and a minor in technical theatre, is completing a five-week summer program in Cuenca, Ecuador. There, for an Oral Interpretation and Storytelling course, she is interviewing locals, creating stories based on the history of Ecuador, and performing the stories she creates to her classmates.

Emma, who is a rising senior from Indianapolis, said of her study abroad plans, “This experience will help me to better learn how to interpret and create my own stories and perform them. This is part of what I will teach to my future students, so having more practice in this will strengthen my skills.” She added, “The thought of making new friends in a different part of the world really excites me. This experience will force me a bit outside my comfort zone, which will help me to learn more about myself, and it will help me to become more culturally sensitive when I am teaching.”

For her follow-on service project, Emma plans to return to her high school and give a presentation on the benefits of studying abroad while also dispelling stereotypes that others might hold about U.S. citizens.

Declining the Gilman Scholarship, because of COVID-related cancellations, are the following:

Kayla Garmon, who will graduate from Ball State in December with a major in Japanese and minors in art history and studio art, had planned to study in Japan this summer. After graduating, the Indianapolis resident plans to complete certification in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and pursue a career as an ESL teacher for high school or college students in Japan.

Tomiya Hamer, a rising junior and Honors College student from Gary, Ind., had hoped to study in Spain this summer; she now plans to reapply for the Gilman Scholarship next year. With majors in political science and public relations, along with a minor in Spanish, Tomiya intends to pursue a career in political communications.

Brittany Slack, who has a major in telecommunications (digital production video) and a minor in entrepreneurial management, had planned to study in Italy this summer. The July 2022 graduate and Indianapolis native intends to work for a news station as a reporter and eventually producer.


The federally-funded Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program provides up to $5,000 to U.S. undergraduate students pursuing academic studies abroad, in order to better prepare them to assume significant roles in an increasingly global economy and interdependent world.


June 2022: Alexa McDonald, a May 2022 graduate and member of the women’s swimming and diving team, has received an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship! She was one of only 21 female winter sport athletes nationwide to receive the $10,000 scholarship, recognizing her accomplishments in academics, athletics, extracurricular activities, and community service.

Alexa completed a bachelor’s degree in biology, with a minor in chemistry, graduating summa cum laude from Ball State and the Honors College in May with a 3.98 GPA. This fall she will enter the D.V.M. (doctor of veterinary medicine) program at Colorado State University, with the eventual goal of opening her own veterinary hospital and conducting animal research.

Alexa, who is from Hilliard, Ohio, served as Vice-President and then President of Ball State’s Pre-Vet & Animal Welfare Society Club, initiating a wide range of activities, both on and off campus, to help members become well-prepared to enter their future professions. She also served as a research assistant in an animal behavior lab at Ball State and gained many hundreds of hours’ experience in veterinary hospitals and clinics, in both Indiana and Ohio.

As a swimmer, Alexa specialized in the breaststroke, earning a place as the all-time second best BSU women’s breaststroker in the 100 and setting Ball State records in the 200 and 400 free relays. She placed first in three different regional meets for the 100 breaststroke, and she was invited to the National Invitation Championship Meet for three of the past four years.

“I cannot thank the NCAA and those who have helped me along the way enough for this wonderful opportunity,” said Alexa. “With their support, I am able to close out an incredibly fun and rewarding swimming career and take on a new lifelong career, as a veterinarian.”