my capstone experience

Amanda Kowalik '08

Amanda Kowalik '08, a Nursing major from Hooksett, N.H., discusses her senior group Capstone project, which involved creating intervention methods for school-aged children because of a high prevalence of generational cycle of substance abuse. The Capstone project, which involves extensive research and presentation, is the culmination of each student's academic experience and part of the Liberal Education Program at Colby-Sawyer College. While at Colby-Sawyer, Amanda was the co-vice president of the Student Nurses Association. She found immediate employment after graduation as a new graduate nurse in the Neuroscience Special Care Unit at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.

Describe the subject of your Capstone project and why you chose to focus on this subject.

My Capstone group was based at the Newport Health Center in Newport, N.H. In the first semester of senior year, we conducted a community wide assessment using the Anderson Wheel model. After analyzing Unified Crime Reports from the police department, interviewing community members, recording our personal observations and other research, we decided to focus our intervention on school aged children because we discovered there was a high prevalence of generational cycle of substance abuse.

What research did you conduct for this project?

Starting this semester, our group combined efforts with the Tiger Treatment Center Capstone group, which was based in the same community. A large health fair took place in March and our groups collaborated to create informational booths on substance abuse/tobacco and alcohol prevention. Our group also found there was a need for Newport Health Center's increased knowledge regarding the resources available for substance abuse treatment programs. We researched and contacted providers throughout the state of New Hampshire and Vermont, then created a resource binder containing the information.

What was most fun and rewarding for you in the process of creating your Capstone?

The most rewarding part of this capstone experience was hearing the student responses at the health fair. One student told me, “I'm so glad you came here. We really need this. I hope you come back next year!” That statement, and many others, made all our hard work rewarding beyond measure.

What did you find most challenging and difficult about the project?

The biggest challenge of this Capstone project was communicating with group members, the Tiger Treatment Center group, and community members. Each senior nursing student was working a different schedule in our preceptorship, which made meeting difficult. A lack of financial funding also made certain aspects of the health fair difficult.

What do you hope will be the lasting value of your Capstone project, both for you and others?

I hope next year's students will hold this health fair again. Both Newport Middle-High school students and community members were receptive to our intervention, with positive responses. I also hope the students could evaluate the effectiveness of the resource binder. There is a great need for health related information in the Newport community. If our intervention helps just one person, then in my mind the Capstone is successful. This project helped open my eyes to how the needs of the community as a whole can impact an individual.