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Four Years in One Project: How Capstone Projects Embody Everything Colby-Sawyer Students Learn

Before graduating, every Colby-Sawyer senior must complete a Capstone research project unique to his or her major and present the results to faculty, administration, staff and the community at the Susan Colby Colgate Scholars' Symposium.

This year's symposium will be held on Monday, April 21, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. and Tuesday, April 22, starting at 8:30 a.m. at various locations on campus. The symposium and all related events are free and open to the public. A full listing of symposium presentations, times and locations is available here.

Projects in 21 majors will be represented. They range from running hypothetical airline companies to raising more than 50 catfish in an ecological study, from writing the biography of a loved one to studying what drives the human brain to want to be right. Yet no matter the subject matter of a project, students agree that the Capstone experience is the culmination of all the classes taken during the past four years. The Capstone is proof that every senior at Colby-Sawyer has undergone a rigorous, multi-disciplinary education and is ready to move into the workforce and find success.

Tien Le, a senior Media Studies major, created a website called The Wandering Shoes that highlights her love of traveling and her website building skills. Le believes her final product will serve as a vehicle “for international students and people who have studied abroad to share their traveling experiences.”

Capstone projects, said Le, allow students to “explore their passions while showcasing the skills they have learned at Colby-Sawyer.”

“Whatever we have learned in these four years, Capstone sums it all up,” said Business Major Jagat Pokharel '14, who worked with four other Business Majors to compete against other teams in an airline company simulation. “We had to use everything we have learned from freshman year until now in this project, and if you have taken your college career seriously, this project will prove that.”

Environmental Studies majors Theodore Hoople '14 and Steven D'Angeli '14 worked together to study catfish and aquaponic farming. The two captured more than 50 catfish and built a system that circulated the water from the fish tanks through lettuce plants. The two spent countless hours over the course of their senior year testing water PH levels, caring for the fish, and growing beautiful heads of organic lettuce.

“The greatest part of the Capstone curriculum is getting the experience, and getting that first-hand experience doing a research project on your own,” said D'Angeli. Hoople agreed. “The importance of a Capstone is to get real research experience before going into a research career. My favorite part of this project was watching things grow – myself, my plants and my résumé,” he said.

On the other side of the academic spectrum, English major Justyne Collier '14 analyzed her grandfather's life after conducting interviews and collected enough data to begin writing his biography, a long-term project she plans to continue after graduation. Collier also had to do a significant amount of research on the genre of biography as well. She relished the freedom to prove her research and writing skills by focusing on a topic that meant a great deal to her. “Everyone's Capstone is different in my major. It was left up to us what we wanted to research and what we wanted to write. The Capstone project really put the fun back into my major."

“After Scholars' Day it will be all over,” said Psychology major Samantha Looney '14. “But the feeling we all get from completing the uncompletable will never leave. After I finished my Capstone I realized I could do anything. I have proven myself, and I can do it again whenever I want. We can all say this and mean it.”

– Jacqueline Susmann '14

Jacqueline Susmann is a Creative Writing major at Colby-Sawyer College and an intern for College Communications.

Colby-Sawyer College is a comprehensive college that integrates the liberal arts and sciences with professional preparation. Founded in 1837, Colby-Sawyer is located in the scenic Lake Sunapee Region of central New Hampshire. Learn more about the college's vibrant teaching and learning community at

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