Meet the students and faculty

Students in the Ball State University immersive seminar class, News Deserts 2021, at the Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry examined gaps of coverage in Muncie, particularly among communities where stories go untold, under-recognized and unheard. Meet the students who believed there was more to say and launched Inform Muncie.


Pauleina Brunnemer is an analytics driven social media specialist studying public relations and economics at Ball State University. Her passion for telling stories began in the newsroom where she worked with The Daily News and The Commercial Review. Now, she uses her passion for telling stories online through bridging organizations and their followers together. Over six semesters, Pauleina has worked with multiple social media accounts to create and implement social media strategies. While at Ball State she has enjoyed her time as an active member in Alpha Omicron Pi-Kappa Kappa and Cardinal Metrics. In her free time she enjoys traveling, photography and exploring local coffee shops. The Inform Muncie immersive project, has provided an opportunity for her to dive into stories in a community that has meant so much to her.

Hayden Emrah is a junior majoring in public relations, with minors in entrepreneurial business and marketing, with an academic focus on media theory. “When I’m not writing or doing schoolwork, I can usually be found practicing the drum set, a passion of mine since high school.” Known for his sense of humor, Hayden says while he has no specific plans for after college, his tenacity to learn will assuredly lead him to something he’s passionate about.

Jacob Hale is a sophomore majoring in telecommunications and journalism, with a focus on news and minoring in sociology. Some of Jacob’s hobbies include video editing, photography, film study and storytelling. Jacob decided to join the VBC course because the idea of a single, rigorous class that zeroed in on a topic that overlapped journalism and sociology sounded appealing.

Megan Havlin is a journalism major with a concentration in magazine media. She also studies film and screenwriting, and professional writing and emerging media. “I currently work as a website content writer for a start-up company. I loved meeting new people and having new experiences through this project.”

Sam Keevil is a public relations major with concentrations in event planning and communications studies. “In my free time I play ukulele, play video games, watch comedy shows, and sing and dance like nobody is looking. Working on Inform Muncie has given me a new sense of purpose and motivation to be an informant for as many people in my life as possible.”

Grace Medrano is a senior studying journalism and telecommunications with a minor in sociology. She will attend grad school at IUPUI next. “I grew up in East L.A. and saw a lot at a very young age. Although it was hard, it led me here and let me discover my passion of helping those who are unheard. This project has only emphasized that goal of mine and brought me closer to it. Eventually I would like to do studies and report on gang violence in America being a result of systemic inequalities.”

Jacob Musselman is a senior journalism and telecommunications double major with a minor in digital printing. “I love photojournalism and I’m constantly looking at Instagram and seeing the great work people are doing.” After graduation, Jacob hopes to secure a staff role at a newspaper or sports team. The late nights and early mornings trying to shoot and edit sports photos have instilled a drive in him to do whatever he puts his mind to.

Samantha Nower is a senior magazine journalism major. She is a part of the business and research team for Inform Muncie. As a resident of a community much like Muncie that has a struggling local newspaper, Sam is passionate about local journalism’s power to strengthen and mobilize communities. She has loved being able to see new sides of Muncie through work on this project, and is excited to be able to take what she’s learned and use it to inform and help others.

Amy Schwartz is a junior majoring in news journalism and telecommunications with a minor in interpersonal relations. She is from Geneva, Indiana, a small, rural community in northeastern Indiana. She was drawn to this course because of the news disparity she sees in her own hometown and wanted to find a solution to “news deserts.” In this course, she has had the opportunity to practice new skills while doing her own original reporting. In the future, Amy wants to be an authentic, accurate, and respectful news reporter.

Anna Sego is a junior at Ball State double majoring in photojournalism and sociology. “I have been doing photography for about five years and absolutely love it! I have a two-year-old German Shepherd named Luna back home with my parents. When I can, I like to spend my time hiking when I’m not inside editing or watching movies. After I graduate next May, I’d like to find a job that can combine both of my majors that will also allow me to stay close to my family.”

Arianna Sergio is a junior journalism major with a concentration in magazine media and a minor in creative writing, film/screenwriting and theatre. She joined this experience to educate herself about news deserts and how they affect different areas. She is the senior features editor for Byte and a senior editor for Ball Bearings Magazine. “Writing has always been a constant for me. When I’m not writing, the most important things to me are spending quality time with people I love and traveling the world because who doesn’t love that?”

Taylor Sheridan is a junior journalism major with emphasis in media design and development, photojournalism and a minor in fashion and sociology. She recently joined Byte as associate graphics editor, and has worked as a writing tutor at the Writing Center.

Sam Sherman is a journalism major at Ball State University. He spent some time as a sports anchor for NewsLink Indiana and a podcast analyst/host for Cardinal Sports Live. Currently, Sam is the drummer for a local band and enjoys stand-up comedy and comedy writing. He hopes to continue practicing journalism as well as engaging his passions for comedy and music. “The opportunity to learn from my community through Inform Muncie has been incredibly valuable. I can’t wait to see the role Inform Muncie plays in bettering the lives of people in our community.”

Ian Tannenbaum started their journey at Ball State in the fashion program, and they realized that their passion for sociology far outweighed their passion for costume design. When Professor Messineo told them about the immersive learning experience available in 2021, they decided to jump right in. Aside from sociology, they are very passionate about native wildlife and foraging, gardening, domestic animals, and political advocacy. They hope to connect at least a few of these passions and become a public sociologist in the future.

Sophie Thompson is a junior sociology major with a minor in history from Goshen, Indiana. Sophie has been in the Ball State University Women’s Chorus and Ladies Choice A Cappella! The Muncie community has provided a space for cultivating her passions and she hopes to go onto work toward equality and for social justice.

Haley Wade is a junior journalism and telecommunications major, with a minor in German and professional writing. “I am a huge book nerd and love to go on mini adventures with my friends. I have a little kitten named Obie, and I love to write, paint, and hang with my friends in my free time. Inform Muncie has helped me grow as a professional and as a journalist, and I’m even more passionate to get into my field after this experience!”


Melinda Messineo is a professor of sociology at Ball State University and an inclusive excellence advocate. She is the recipient of numerous teaching awards including the Schnabel Teaching Award from the North Central Sociological Association and the Hans O. Mauksch Award from the American Sociological Association Section on Teaching and Learning. She has served as president of the North Central Sociological Association, vice president of Alpha Kappa Delta, the International Sociological Honor Society, and was Chair of the Section for Teaching and Learning for the American Sociological Association. She co-led students examining news deserts and developing a new inclusive media outlet – Inform Muncie – focused on the unrecognized and under-served communities in Muncie.

Juli Metzger is an associate lecturer with the Department of Journalism and a 2020-21 fellow at the Virginia Ball Center for Creative Inquiry at Ball State University. She co-led students examining news deserts and developing a new inclusive media outlet –Inform Muncie-focused on the unrecognized and under-served communities in Muncie. Over a 30-year career as a journalist, she’s been a reporter, city editor, features editor, managing editor and was the top editor of three newspapers and president and publisher of three others