2020 Graduate, Ball State University
In 2020, Brandi Lambertson graduated from Ball State University with a double major in Entrepreneurial Management and Marketing. She was president of Ball State’s Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization and was named the outstanding graduate for the Entrepreneurial Management Major. She also works for Ball State, as a 21st Century Scholar Support Specialist. A graduate student usually has that position, but Lambertson was chosen as an undergraduate by the AmeriCorps program and Ball State because of her unique qualifications. To this day, she enjoys helping other Scholars, because she understands what it is like to be in their shoes.
How did your path to college begin?
I graduated from North Miami High School in 2009. I was a 21st Century Scholar and knew I wanted to go to college, but when I started classes at Ivy Tech in Gary, Indiana, in 2011, I couldn’t afford books and didn’t really know what I was doing. I moved to Kokomo, Indiana, and started taking classes again, but I was homeless and there were times that I had to sleep in my car. That year, my ex-boyfriend killed himself and I just stopped. It wasn’t until 2014 that I decided to go back. I moved to Marion, Indiana, and started working.
What happened then?
Because of my poor academic record, I had to appeal to get back into Ivy Tech. My advisor, Norma Anderson, was the best. If I was struggling, I would call her. She would just be there to calm me down. Sometimes you just need a little support.
In 2017, Lambertson graduated from Ivy Tech Community College with an associate degree in business administration and was named the “Dean’s Outstanding Student for the School of Business Administration.”
What is it like helping other 21st Century Scholars at Ball State?
At Ball State, 21st Century Scholars are invited to a big kick-off event during orientation, and our office is here to help guide them throughout their first year. It is intense but rewarding to help students who come from such diverse backgrounds. I can relate to our students very much, but the difference is that I didn’t have any support heading into college. I messed up, and it took a lot of work to find my way.
Fortunately, I had an academic advisor who pushed me and help set the tone for college. When I meet with students who are struggling, I tell students what my GPA was when I had to appeal to get back into Ivy Tech. I try to keep it very real.
What is your advice for students?
I have students in my office who are so scared to ask for help, scared to say they are struggling. Students need to know that it is OK. There’s a stigma, too, about using tutoring or mental health counseling, and that is wrong. These services exist to help students. They are completely confidential, and it is 100 percent OK to get the help you need. Take care of yourself, get plenty of exercise, get outside to take a walk when you are feeling stressed. It can make a huge difference.
Also, while a GPA is important, there are other components to getting the best educational experience. You are building your future, so it is really important to get involved. Working, volunteering, going to academic conferences are all great opportunities. When you are in college, there is a whole world of people on campus who want to help you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them. Learning to do that is part of the college experience.