Four women collaborating at a table 

Pathways is a mentoring program, housed in the Graduate School, that matches undergraduate and graduate students from marginalized backgrounds (e.g., domestic Students of Color, LGBTQIA2S+ students, students with disabilities, low-income students, student veterans, students with dependents, etc.) with faculty, staff, community professionals, and distinguished alumni associated with Ball State University. By meeting with a mentor on a consistent basis, interacting with other Pathways mentees, and participating in Pathways and University-sponsored events, students gain knowledge and establish critical networks to support their graduate education and career goals. Ultimately, Pathways aims to provide opportunities for students to build crucial relationships and skills necessary to pursue graduate education and beyond.



The program works to achieve the following goals:

  • To establish positive and supportive relationships between mentors and mentees
  • To support underrepresented students working toward graduate degree completion
  • To support students’ professional development through academic and career skill-building
  • To motivate students to pursue graduate education and the professoriate
  • To demystify and assist students with the graduate school application process
  • To increase the skill level of faculty and professionals at Ball State to mentor       

Program Structure

To achieve the major goal of mentoring students along their graduate education and career journeys, the structure of the Pathways program includes the following components discussed in detail below.

Community-building Gatherings

To facilitate community building within the program and support structured mentoring interactions between mentees and their mentors, Pathways organizes several scheduled events (e.g., an initial welcome reception, faculty experiences panel, student workshops, mentoring partner social events and end-of-the-year reception event) to facilitate regular communication among the larger cohort of mentees and mentors.

At the start of each semester, mentees commit to attending at least two professional development events each semester.  Program coordinators (i.e., Pathways graduate assistants and Graduate School Faculty Fellow) document student attendance for student eligibility for small grant funding.


The mentoring partnerships between mentors and mentees comprise the heart of the Pathways mentoring program. Unstructured, informal meetings between mentor-mentee pairs provide more opportunities for more personalized support for students. Mentoring pairs will collaboratively decide on the frequency and medium for communicating beyond the minimum requirement for informal mentoring interactions at the start of their involvement in the program.

This communication can come in the form of email, phone calls, informal meetings over lunch or other non-academic activities. These decisions will be documented in the mentorship agreement initialed by both parties at the beginning of the partnership. Bi-weekly communication (minimum) between mentee and mentors is strongly encouraged.

Given the large number of offices on campus with existing programs offering training, sessions, and workshops related to students’ academic and professional development, Pathways encourages mentees to participate in these events as part of the structure of the program through regular communication about upcoming opportunities.

Matching Process

The mentee-mentor matching process is a vital component of the Pathways program. The following steps below describe the components of this process.

There are multiple ways in which a student may be referred to the program.

Faculty Referrals – Faculty may informally recommend students for potential involvement in the program. Faculty can either email the Pathways graduate assistants (Katie Bittermann at or Brandy Pugh at with the name and contact information of the potential mentee, or refer the student to the Pathways Mentor/Mentee Application Form

Program Coordinator Referrals – In addition to faculty who identify students, the program coordinators identify students through lists shared by academic colleges, Admissions, and the Office of Retention and Graduation.     

Referrals may come from:

  • faculty
  • program coordinators
  • students (for themselves or another student)

After referrals, students and mentors complete an application and answer questions about their:

  • mentor/mentee preferences
  • academic and professional interests
  • demographic information

Though demographic and preference information is collected, mentees and mentors are not guaranteed a match based on preferences given the number of individuals represented in the program.

Based on the feedback from students’ applications and information based on faculty’s interest in participating as a mentor (e.g., student preference), mentors and mentees are matched in pairs (some mentees may be assigned more than one mentor and vice versa).

After mentors and mentees are matched based on preference, academic, and professional interest criteria, both parties receive a notification of their match via a formal email.

Mentors are encouraged to contact reach out to their mentees at this point.

After mentees and their mentors are matched and both have agreed to participate in the program, both parties will complete an online pre-program assessment.

Apply to the Program

Student mentees

Complete the online application.

Apply Now


Complete the online application form.

Apply Now