Students ditch traditional capstones for more hands-on experiences

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A typical capstone project might involve a long research paper, but some students are finding more hands-on ways to exhibit what they’ve learned during their collegiate careers.

Sarah Folks, a senior communication major from St. George, and her sister Hannah Folks, also a senior communication major from St. George, are combining their mutual passion for golf for their colorful capstone.

These sisters have planned an event for their capstone project. As two members of the women’s golf team, they wanted to help the women’s team by organizing a fundraiser. The event is on Saturday, and it’s a four-person scramble competition. There will also be a silent auction and a banquet after the event. 

They said they are both thankful for the unique opportunity to skip the research paper in favor of something more hands-on that will benefit the community.

“We get to have people involved in our project instead of a board of professors in a room reading our paper,” Hannah Folks said.

This is a large undertaking, Hannah Folks said. She said this project is practical and directly relates to the careers they want in event management and nonprofit work.

“I respect people who have a passion for research,” Sarah Folks said. “I think, for us, it’s better because we are able to get outside of academia and apply the principles that we’ve learned to a real-life project. It’s not so much about citing sources as being able to work with people and being able to communicate effectively and get stuff done.”

Both sisters said they agree a professional project is a better way to show off the skills they have learned at college and said the planning process has been much more fun for them than the typical capstone. 

“It’s more applicable to what we want to do, too,” Sarah Folks said. “I want to work for a nonprofit organization. I want to be able to do stuff like this [event] and get people involved. [Hannah Folks] wants to do event management in the golf industry. It’s awesome to apply what we’ve learned to what we actually want to do instead of sitting behind a computer.”

A capstone project is something most students do before graduating, but where capstones may seem tedious and uninteresting, some students are making it fun.

Kellie Busse, a senior communication major from Las Vegas, is another student straying from the typical research paper.

Busse raised money for the Children of Hope Academy through a golf competition Saturday. The longest drive competition was held at Sand Hollow Resort.

Across the street from the Nisson Towers, the Children of Hope Academy operates on a donation and volunteer-only basis, meaning it doesn’t pay its volunteers or owners, and it doesn’t take money from its students. The academy teaches people who are over 18 and are mentally challenged. 

“I wanted to do an event because it would give me the opportunity to see if I wanted to plan or run events,” Busse said.

Like the Folks sisters, Busse said this event has helped her be more involved in the community. Busse said this event forced her out of her comfort zone, which is something she is grateful for.

Joshua Kaneversky, a senior communication major from Visalia, California, is writing a research paper for his capstone, but he has put a current, trendy spin on his project.

Kaneversky’s project, “A Rhetorical Analysis of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s Social Media Campaigns,” follows the Facebook posts of both presidential candidates from Jan. 1 to Feb. 4, which was around the time the Iowa caucus took place.

Kaneversky said he enjoys analyzing social media, his area of study, which is why he chose this topic. He said social media is a current issue and is interesting to young adults.

He said he found Clinton used a professional approach whereas Trump was more spontaneous in his posts.

“Donald Trump is way more successful than Hillary Clinton [with social media] because social media users want open and honest communication, and they don’t want something that’s filtered through,” Kaneversky said.

Kaneversky said he is glad he was able to pick an interesting a current topic for his final project. Social media is something that interests him, he said, and he had a fun time doing it.  

“At the end of the day, I was stalking two people on Facebook,” Kaneversky said. “How great can life get?”