Does Showcase Mean It’s Over?

Sitting here as the capstone showcase wraps up, I can’t believe it’s already over! I don’t know if it’s the result of being done with college or just with a massive project that took up much of my semester. Probably both. I think I often feel this way when I finish large literature pieces. Maybe it’s especially strong this time because I made something I had never made before this semester; a podcast. Learning how to create and edit a podcast was something that was actually a lot easier than I anticipated (shout out Garage Band!) Still, it feels weird. It reminds me of when I typed an essay about my experience with nationalism and feelings of strong emotions during my trip to Washington D.C. It was the largest piece I had created (until now) and it never really felt done. Kind of similar to how I feel now. With a topic as meta as feelings of emotion and then subsequently, a discussion on free will and determinism, I guess the discussion is never really done. With something that’s hard to explain or something that can never really be over, it leaves the creator feeling unfinished. That’s how I feel now. I feel like I could continue this free will discussion with countless more guests, experts, friends, etc. and keep this podcast going as more and more stories and incidences of guidance and free will continue to occur in the world. Well, I guess there isn’t much more work to be done now that I’m leaving showcase, but this topic is definitely something I will continue to ponder as my life progresses.

Challenge Journal #3 – Jacob Stropes

Sooooo I am finally getting around to finishing off all of the scripts for my podcast episodes. I am typing this challenge post in the middle of typing the last script because I needed some sort of time away from staring at the same page. I don’t really find myself struggling to type the script itself, I just feel a little unmotivated still in finishing the thing off. I believe I may have talked about this in a comment I made to someone else’s post but I feel fear in that my podcast may not turn out as professional sounding as I had hoped. Not that I don’t have the ability to edit and speak in a professional manner, it is simply a time crunch.

As much as I would love to forget about the rest of my classes and focus solely on this for the next 9 days, I simply cannot do that, which sucks, but yeah. I have dealt with this issue many times in the past throughout the course of balancing my business course load but still being expected to pump out papers and multimedia projects through the minor program. I am trying to remember how I dealt with those dilemmas in the past successfully but each time I think back to a dilemma like this, it just seems to have worked out somehow. Maybe that’s the point and that’s why my topic is what it is. I’m going to put the effort into all of the responsibilities as best I can and hopefully through Compatibilism (episode 4 check it out), it will all end up working out. Guess we’ll just have to wait 9 days and see.

Challenge Journal #2

An essential piece of my capstone project on free will and determinism will be gathering information from different “experts” on the various subtopics I will discuss. As of right now, I am planning on doing this in an informal, informational interview setting. A few of the subtopics are basic background, religious viewpoints and opinions, and racial factors. Within the first subtopic I plan to interview a Michigan faculty member who has studied topics like these in the past. For the religious viewpoints, I plan on interviewing a Buddhism professor as well as a Christian pastor. Finally, for the subject of how race affects feelings of free will and determinism, I will have to interview someone who is not white.

In my gateway project, one of the experiments I considered was presenting Stephen King with a letter and an interview request (I knew it wouldn’t happen, but I also knew that this wouldn’t be my fully realized project). Regardless of who I interview, whether it is Stephen King or a Buddhism professor, the most important part of an interview is being prepared. While I did not execute the interview, I did execute the preinterview work for my theoretical interview with King. This is going to be of great use to me as I interview the people involved with my current undertaking. It was useful practice in developing questions that are not only interesting but also can lead to and play off of each other to keep conversation smooth. Additionally, I learned the value of putting myself in their position and asking myself the questions to ensure they weren’t too elementary or off putting in any way. Finally, one of the most important things I learned from the prep for King’s interview was to give the interviewee a purpose. This is why, amongst other obvious reasons, I did not pursue this as my gateway project further: he had no purpose to ever do an interview with me. I need to ensure that by doing interviews with me, the people in my current project are feeling as if they are furthering research in a topic they are interested in, or feel as if, for one reason or another, they are somehow internally or externally benefitting from giving me their time and knowledge.

Capstone Challenge #1 – Jacob Stropes

My capstone project is centered around the topic of predetermined fate / destiny, and subsequently, the degree of free will that we have as individuals. I am drawing on my previous experience in Gateway regarding the form I am thinking about executing my topic in. I plan on doing a podcast series with a final presentation in the form of a TedTalk, the same way my Gateway was summarized. In Gateway, and throughout my time in Ross, I have discovered a passion for presenting. I enjoy the thrill of public speaking and the art form that presenting is in terms of the different points that can be made with changes in your voice, facial expression, and your general movements. Taking a class in Ross centered around presentation as an art form, if you will, has motivated me to use the skills I developed there to create this project as a podcast and TedTalk.

While I don’t have a great deal of concern regarding this choice, my largest issues that I can foresee will be the time requirement to make a clean, professional podcast; as well as my inexperience with audio editing of any kind. With each podcast episode ranging anywhere from 15-30 minutes, and the subsequent editing that that will entail, I am planning on self-teaching myself how to edit audio efficiently through some sort of online program in the coming weeks. On the other hand, I feel that with a topic of this nature, it will be essential for me to be able to speak about it. I anticipate finding it much easier to give complex, sometimes hard to believe, explanations for phenomena that others haven’t experienced themselves vocally rather than in writing.

It’s Finally Here

So here it is, the moment we’ve all been waiting for… kinda, maybe, okay probably not but still, here it is. I’m happy with the way my portfolio turned out, I think it really exemplifies the work I’ve done this semester as the quality has definitely been on a steady upslope from the beginning to the end. I think that the quality of my work really began to improve when I realized what sections of writing I enjoyed working in most. The sections that allowed me to express myself and be as open as possible with my audience were the ones that I enjoyed the most, particularly the TedTalk. It allowed me to connect with my audience on a personal, face-to-face level. This “revelation”, if you will, helped me regain my confidence as a writer and I think that sustaining this confidence, even through times when I am struggling to produce good work is what I hope to work on most between now and the capstone. I think continuing to write through the times I struggle is going to be the best way to keep my confidence and to get through the times that I hit a block as quickly as possible. Additionally, another strength I have developed is a unique voice centered around speaking freely and conversationally. I know that that isn’t something I’ll be able to take with me as I pursue a career in law, but it is something I feel I am good at and something that I would like to continue to craft as I progress through the program. I hope you enjoy my site and can find my TedTalk beneficial! The link to my website is here.

Looking Out For Yourself

During my sophomore year at Ross, we were forced to go to 10 guest speakers during the first semester. It was a hassle to say the least, and some of the speeches were even quite dry. However, somewhere in the middle was a man named Marcus Collins. He was able to captivate an audience like I have never seen before. His story was incredible and his physical delivery was impeccable. To this day, whenever I give a speech I try to speak with the confidence and energy that he portrayed. Following in this inspiration, I have decided that the genre that I will be working with for experiment three is speeches; specifically speeches that are framed as Ted Talks, the way Marcus’ was.

Pictured Above: Marcus Collins.

After evaluating multiple speeches, one of which being Marcus’, I have come to decide that this way of giving speeches is by far the most effective to hit the audience I am trying to hit (high school and college age students). There were very large discrepancies between the “Ted Talk” speech and the commencement speeches that I evaluated. The former being infinitely more lively as the speaker worked his way across the stage, towards and back from the audience, and utilized emotion to have so much more of an effect than the commencement speakers. I feel that this is a direct result of the setting in which the speeches occurred as Denzel Washington and J.K. Rowling (two of the commencement speakers) are nothing short of spectacular people, they just seemingly had to tame themselves in the situation.


I hope that the following “How To Give an Engaging Speech” guide will benefit you and lead you in a way that helps you to captivate audiences.

  1. Find Your Passion
  • What do you want to talk about? This is not a guide to give a classroom speech, for this guide to be effective, you need to have a passion for what you are discussing.
  1. Know Your Passion Inside, Outside, and In Between
  • In order to have flow and to be able to use the next step, it is critical to know your topic inside and out. Knowing as much as possible about your topic allows you to just get up there and talk. I know that sounds easier than it is, but if you think about your favorite thing in the world (say… football) you can get up there and just talk football. That’s because you know football, you know teams, you know players, you know stadiums, you know the rules, you know everything.
  1. Create a Minimalist Script
  • Most people assume that to give a good speech, you need a thorough script. However, I disagree, I believe that taking a minimalist mindset when preparing a script for a speech is a much more beneficial strategy. Writing out just the main ideas that you want to cover will afford you the ability to be yourself and show your true self when speaking. It also creates better flow as you aren’t struggling to remember all of a potentially hour long speech.
  1. Practice!
  • How do you practice a speech that doesn’t have a script? You just talk, the same way you’ll just talk when you’re on stage. You know the main points, you know the order of those main points, and you know as much as there is to know about your topic. So…. Just go talk about it! To your friends, your family, anyone who will listen.



Now, I know there is more to giving a good speech than that but that’s the beauty of this kind of speech…. It’s your speech and it’s your passion. In this subsection of speeches, there is no right way, your way is the right way because this “Ted Talk” is yours and if you are lively and engaging and you know your topic, it will be successful.



With my “Ted Talk” speech, I hope to reach an audience of high school and college aged students. For them I hope to pose and begin to answer the question, “What does it mean to look out for yourself?” Within this question I will be exploring the selfish/selflessness involved in the situation (specifically, considering when it is time to let some of your friends go that may be holding you back from your true potential – similar to Gordie Lachance in “The Body”). This is a great genre to enter this conversation as a lively discussion is one of, if not the best, way to engage and communicate to high school and college students. It far surpasses a long article or an essay, and a blog post just won’t do it justice. This conversation is one that needs to be had face to face and with the spoken word.

Say Hello To My Little Movie Poster

The theory I propose about Stephen King’s “The Body” is one where King is actually writing about himself writing about his own childhood and his experience seeing a dead body through the narrator (a horror story writer) writing about his childhood experiences. This movie poster for a remake of Stand By Me (a movie based on “The Body”) will allow me to visualize this complex idea by superimposing a childhood Stephen King and an adult Stephen King behind their respective characters in the movie looking in the direction of a dead body. I will include a dark color scheme to portray the bleak feeling of the dead body discovery and prominently feature the names of the actors and the director. The primary audience for my movie poster is King enthusiasts who enjoyed Stand By Me, “The Body”, or simply enjoy movies in general. My secondary audience will be general movie goers who I hope to intrigue right away the first time they see the poster in order to get them to come see the movie. Despite the limited word usage a poster allows me, the ability to visualize the theory will go a long way in helping people comprehend and follow what I am proposing.

To begin on a personal note, I enjoyed this genre analysis much more than the first. I am a huge movie person and that’s why I believe I will very much enjoy this experimentation process. The genre I will be working with in experiment #2 is movie posters. I think movie posters do a great job of providing a lot of critical information in a very compact medium. These posters generally include the names of the main actors prominently displayed in large, bolded text. This helps show that one of the main factors of an individual choosing to see a movie is who they will be seeing in it. The posters also include a tagline, a short statement intended to intrigue the audience. This, along with the captivating visual, is crucial to the movie’s success as with seemingly 10-20 movies in a theater at any given time, there are always other options if a tagline or visual does not grasp the audience’s attention. Although some of the placements of specific conventional items included on movie posters are variable, it is common to see a visual in the middle – top of the poster. This visual usually involves at least one of the main cast members. A few of the other conventions include:

  • The name of the director (the name’s prominence is usually relative to how big the director is)
  • The name of the biggest actor is somehow set apart from the name of supporting actors (i.e. bigger font, bold font, etc.)
  • An intriguing color scheme that helps to indicate the mood of the film
  • A release date or some kind of timeline indicating when the film will be in theaters (i.e. “Coming This Summer”)
  • A limited amount of informative text about the movie

As we look at some of the posters featured throughout this post, they all feature at least a few of the contentions mentioned above. The Inception poster is special to me as this movie is the driving force behind my theory about King (dreams within dreams, stories within stories, that kind of thing). It utilizes all of the conventions as it displays Christopher Nolan’s name, very very prominently displays Leonardo DiCaprio’s name, has a mysterious looking color scheme and visual, and prominently displays the release date in bold font at the bottom. Finally, it has a very short tagline as the only informative text about the actual movie itself.


The poster for Scarface (an all time personal favorite movie), is an example that doesn’t necessarily fit the exact mold of the typical conventions in a movie poster. The Scarface poster displays much more text and places a ton of emphasis of the lead actor Al Pacino. It has his name displayed at the top but unlike most posters, does not show any supporting cast. This could be because as far as I know, he was far and wide the most famous actor in the movie so it may have seemed prudent to just focus on him. It also features an interesting color scheme of black and white which (having seen the film) represents the constant internal conflicts he has with himself as well as the white representing the ginormous importance cocaine has throughout the movie. The poster does also feature the director.

The specific strategies I plan on borrowing include the prominent name of a big-time director. I plan on using Christopher Nolan as he directed Inception and Inception is once again the driving force behind the creation of my theory about “The Body”. I also plan to put Stephen King and whoever will be playing Gordon name’s at the top of the poster and have them both be in the primary visual. I will include when the movie will be in theaters, and I don’t plan to use any informative text with the exception of the tagline.