Chudley and Me

Hey friends,

I’m really excited to introduce my project today: On Dogs—a site reflecting on the value that our little (or medium-sized! or large!) friends confer to those around them. As I mention within, I think most folks tend to passively state (or think about) how much they love their dogs. Perhaps it’s self-evident. You don’t need a reminder. But in losing my own just a few months ago, I’ve realized the value in thinking deeply and out loud about my relationship with him. I’ve come to find that intentionally and thoughtfully reflecting is, well, really important. My aim is to inspire that sort of robust discussion, and hope to have my site serve as your own personal springboard.

This has been quite the ride—I’m really proud of the final product, and I hope to continue visiting and contributing to it over the next few months and years. So with that—as they say in my new favorite show of quarantine, Top Chef—I’ll pack my knives and go.

To T and all of my W20 classmates, thank you for such an enriching semester. It has really been a blast, and I will surely miss it. Congratulations to all of you.

To Michigan, thank you for a truly wonderful and formative four years. It’s been a pleasure.

And to Chudley, thank you for being the best dog, friend, and brother any boy could ask for.

https://ntomaino4.wixsite.com/mysite-2

Growing Pains: a collection of flash fiction

Okay guys, it’s done!

I’m really proud of the finished product. I really thought I would never get it done, but here I am!!!!

“Growing Pains: Very short fiction” is a digital collection of flash fiction. Think short stories, but even shorter. I tried to limit each one to MAX 1.5 pages, and I’d like to think each one is pretty decent. Shoutout to my classmates for giving me great feedback and encouraging me to completely change the project halfway through the semester! Without their encouragement, I would probably be stuck with a project a really hated. Specific shoutout to Christine and Maya for answering the most technical website questions and having the patience to walk through everything with me 🙂 Lastly, I would like to thank T, whose positive attitude and genuine care for each and every one of us pushed me to continue, even when I wanted to give up. This semester has been a wild ride, but at least I have something I’m really proud of to show for it, other than a digital diploma.

Here’s the link: https://hklevin7.wixsite.com/growingpains

here she is!!!

I am very excited and nervous to push out into the world my capstone project that I have been working on all semester!

My project begins as a reflection of a powerful experience that I have had with a group of intentional, smart, and passionate women and progresses into an exploration of the threads that connect us to other women and a larger conversation. Putting together this project was personal, fun, and surprising. The end result was different than what I was expecting when I first set out to start writing and I am really thankful for that. I tried my best to be honest, curious, and inviting and there was so much personal power and growth to gain from that experience for me.

In true girl’s club fashion I hope you grab yourself a glass of wine (if that’s your thing) and you find yourself relaxing and reading with curiosity. Like the subject manner of this project, I hope that this is just the beginning of another conversation to have and explore together. Check it out here: https://sbjose.wixsite.com/website

Kickstarting my Project

I cannot believe I am actually here, turning in and completing my final project of undergrad. It’s been a long road, and yet I still feel as if these four years have flown by! But anyway, my project was a podcast with my best friend, also named Kayla, called K squared: Kickstart Kinship.

That’s her and I with one of her adorable dogs.

Doing this podcast was probably one of the funnest adventures I’ve embarked on and I also learned a lot about computers and audio editing. I also learned a lot about my best friend and myself and I think this was the perfect way to end my college career. I could probably go on about my project, but rather than do that I’ll just let it speak for itself: https://kaylsmit.wixsite.com/kpodcast !

Advice to Future Capstoners

So, to say this isn’t how I pictured my last semester of college going would be an understatement. When it stated, everything seemed normal and then slowly I started to hear more and more about the coronavirus and by the time spring break rolled around, I knew it would come here to Michigan too. And not a week back from spring break, we were already being told to pack our bags. To go home, by any means necessary. It was weird to be away from campus and still taking classes, especially the Capstone. For classes like this, where participation is key, I wasn’t sure how it was going to work. What if people were in different time zones? What if their internet sucked at home? What if, what if, what if? That’s all these days seem to be about. But, miraculously, everything worked out pretty well. It was a bit weird at first, seeing a bunch of boxes with what seemed like headshots of everyone. It’s harder to read body language and keep everyone in focus. I think, though, that despite not being in person, this class had one of the easiest transitions to a virtual world for me. Though we weren’t in person, it was still easy to communicate and share ideas. I think the hardest part was staying on track when being surrounded by family and, in my case, my boyfriend. But T managed to keep us all on track and enthused about our projects, which in light of everything that was happening, was no small task. So, despite being a very different ending from what I expected, I still think I would count this semester as a success.

Some general advice for this course, is to change! Change your project halfway through the semester if you’re just not passionate about it. Sure, you’ll have to make up the time, but even so I think you’ll find it much easier to start a project from scratch than trying to force yourself to finish a project that’s already half done. And, honestly, your project will probably turn out way better because readers can tell when a writer is and is not passionate about their work. I would also say, that no matter what your semester looks like, whether it’s in person or not, to not stretch yourself  too thin or try to do too much. Your first priority should always be your own sanity. And, yes, I may be biased because I’m a psychology major, but even so mental health affects everything. It affects your sleep, affects your physical health, affects your relationships, affects your work. So, trust me, know your limits. And finally, ask for help. If you need to crowd-source an idea or need help troubleshooting technological problems, then don’t be shy. Everyone in your class is in the same position you are, and trust me they’re interested in what you’re doing, just like you’re interested in what they’re doing.

Okay, I lied about that last bit being my last piece of advice. But here it is and trust me it may seem silly and maybe even a bit obvious but it’s probably the most important. HAVE FUN!!!

I hope you get everything you dreamt of out of the minor and that you find yourself writing more and more, and about a broader range of topics. Good luck and happy writing!

Kayla

Here it is! Introducing: The P Word

The time has finally come! What I’ve been waiting for all semester. This project was HARD and doing it amidst a pandemic made it that much trickier. However, I’m so happy with the work I’ve done and published into the word.

I’m still grappling with my privilege and how to not feel guilt or anxiety surrounding my experiences. This project was a giant step in the right direction for me to really unravel these thoughts and feelings and put them into words. I learned so much about myself and my identity when writing these and I hope after reading you learn more about yourself as well. It’s easy to get sucked into your own world but when you start to look at different angles and perspectives, your world gets a whole lot bigger.

The meaning of my work began changing as the environment around me did. I’m now home in Chicago, living at home with my family. The world is shifting before my eyes. I was able to put my privilege into context today. To apply it to the pandemic and the consequences around it. That was something super eye opening as well.

I can’t thank my writing community enough for sticking with me and helping me as I wrote these uncomfortable essays. It definitely wasn’t easy but I’m so proud of how it turned out. Enjoy!

https://kalts8.wixsite.com/mysite-1

Final Thoughts—And Insights?

Future Capstone Students,

I’m tasked with giving you some advice on the class (generally), and on transitioning to online learning (specifically). I feel ill-equipped—candidly, it still feels like I am still learning myself, even as I’m about to click send on my last project of undergraduate. In any event, I hope some of these thoughts prove useful . . . and also know that if you’d like to reach out and chat about the class, I am more than happy to do so.

  • By now, you know what the Minor is all about. It’s creative, introspective, and daring. It pushes you out of your comfort zone. Lean into that. It’s likely your last semester in college, and it would be all too easy to take a back seat. Don’t do that. View this project as a culmination of your time at Michigan—academic or otherwise—and commit yourself to it.
  • In that vein, don’t be afraid to try new things. I suppose that’s tired feedback, but seriously—this will feel the most rewarding, in my opinion, if you experiment a bit and use your creative muscles.
  • Try to be open—not only with yourself, but with your classmates too. One of the best things about this class is the sense of community that we developed. It was really a joy to walk into class every week; once we transitioned to online classes, I looked forward to our sessions more than any other. That’s in large part—if not entirely—because of the people that filled the room. Conversation was honest, fun, and at times cathartic.
  • Definitely consult with your peers, professor, and mentors. I’ve found that feedback has been very useful (more so than in any other class).
  • Budget your time, and know yourself. Make sure you dedicate time not only to your project, but to your classmates’ as well. Transitioning to online platforms hasn’t been terribly difficult, but you do need to make sure you’re staying on track, which is often made more difficult by not having the normal routine of going into North Quad every week.
  • Have fun . . . don’t take your time in class for granted. It’s been such a pleasure to spend the last semester in this class, and I’ll surely miss it. Do the 5-minute journaling, and throw yourself into it.

This can be daunting, sure. But all will be well—plan the work and work the plan. I can’t wait to check back here in a few months to see what brilliant pieces you create!

Introducing my project: Why Students Don’t Vote

Really excited to share with you the work I’ve done.

I took on this topic at first because 1. it’s super interesting to me and 2. because being on a college campus afforded me the resources to lend real insight into this question. The COVID-19 pandemic obviously threw a wrench in some of that plan, but fortunately I was able to produce the product you see below.

I don’t have a ton else to say, though I’ll add my big-picture takeaway from my research and survey analysis and thought and writing: Gen Z and Millenials are often treated as a monolith. They don’t vote because X. They’re not motivated by Y. You know these cliches. I hope we start thinking about this generation in more nuanced terms. The point of this project was to shed light on this idea that people are complication and their motivations are complicated. You have to listen to them in order to really learn.

Hope you enjoy!

https://maxmarcovitch.wixsite.com/studentvote

*taps mic* Words of wisdom

I hate when people lecture me. Especially peers. Especially digitally. So I won’t pretend I have the world figured out. But here are a few things I learned along the way while making this capstone project. Maybe they can help!

Self-motivation, self-motivation, self-motivation. There are lots of different directions you can take your Capstone; there are infinite topics and styles; you can push all the work until the end or spread it out; you can follow the timeframe the professor encourages or not (maybe bad advice?). But there’s one common denominator: If you’re not enthusiastic about the work itself, you won’t be proud of the result. If there’s a single thing I would most urge you to do, hypothetical future Capstone participant, it would be to invest some real time at the very beginning of the class to thinking. What do you want to get out of it? What do you want it to look like? What do you want to achieve? All these far-off deadlines might encourage you to push off forming your vision until it’s necessary, but that’s the worst thing you can do. Otherwise, you’ll be flailing all semester, searching for a new direction or uninspired by the class altogether. If you’re invested in the work itself, then external factors (say, I don’t know, a global pandemic ripping the end of your senior year from underneath you and moving classes online) won’t have as big an impact on this class. 

Having said all this, I think there are some logistical things that your taking seriously will benefit you. When you’re mapping out a schedule for the rest of the semester, take that seriously and schedule realistically. You know when you will and won’t do work — the less bullshit, the better. If you set actual goals then you can actually meet them and you won’t be sitting there a week before it’s due freaking out. Obviously, those goals will change around the edges; maybe, I don’t know, a global pandemic will shift the thrust of your entire project. But having them eases some anxieties about this big heap of work you’ve got to accomplish by some far-off date. Also, I would say, you have to build some flexibility into your vision. Push yourself to do good work, and maybe push yourself beyond what you’d previously deemed capable, but understand your limitations. If you’re like me and not super talented as a website designer, seek help before the week before. If you know you’ll need lots of proof-reading, find someone you trust to shoot straight with you about the writing. And be amenable to changes you might find necessary, for whatever reason.

Lastly, I’d just say this class is really cool. You’re at a university with unlimited resources in a class with unlimited creativity with a professor (I presume) that allows unlimited exploration. Use that. Don’t aim low. Don’t simply go through the motions. Find what you’re passionate about and pour what you have into it. If you do, you’ll be proud of the final result.

Which is to say I could sit here and lecture you about the virtues of meeting every deadline and making a project worth showing to employers or making sure you do a little bit of work every night, but you and I both know this won’t be perfect. You’ll mess up and get lazy. You’ll forget for awhile and cram. But when you’re sitting here writing this post to future Minors in Writing next year, I guarantee you’ll regret it if you’re not proud of the product you produce.

What I Wish I Knew

1. Your capstone project will somehow, someway come together at the end of the semester.

I don’t know if you believe in miracles, but if you don’t… then check out my website because there is no way in hell that I thought I was capable of doing all that, even if I had an entire semester to bring it all together. I doubted myself more than I can remember, and you will most likely, too. Your project may change and morph and see itself transform iteration by iteration. You might think to yourself that you’ve gotten yourself in over your head— that there’s no way you’ll have enough time to slap your work onto a website without it looking like a hot mess. But you will figure it out. Maybe it’ll be because you have all this new free time to fill once you’re forced to move home mid-semester and your only source of entertainment is making subpar TikToks, but I digress! 

2. The only way to do a project of this scale is to break it up into bite-sized tasks.

I’m talking minuscule. Don’t plan to record three podcast episodes in three days. Don’t assume you can tackle your annotated bibliography in an afternoon. This project seemed more manageable each time I listed out small, reasonable goals for the day. Think: transcribe ten minutes of audio or add captions to pictures. My absolute favorite thing to do is make long lists of trivial tasks, and while this may not be effective for short-term deadlines, it helped split up what seemed impossible and kept me productive each day.

3. Your voice is not nearly as annoying to everyone else as it sounds in your own head.

It may sound ridiculous but my biggest reservation about creating a podcast was the idea that my voice would be circulating the world wide web for anyone to tune into. My too deep, too nasally voice plagued with the occasional stutter. But each time I shared audio clips I was praised with how professional it sounded (granted, there was a lot of editing done to get it to that point). And each time I shared it in class or let friends and family listen in, I became more comfortable with the fact that my voice would be a forever artifact on the internet.

4. Use your mentors. They’re a requirement for good reason.

I hated the idea that I’d have to share my project with more people than anticipated, especially during the draft phase. I hated the idea, even more, when I couldn’t do it in person. Even if you don’t plan to meet with them on a regular basis, these are the contacts you can reach out to when you have no idea how to export as an mp3. Your mentors can change as the circumstances change, too. Some of the best advice I got was from letting my parents give a second and third pair of eyes on my website.  

5. You’ll be so grateful to push yourself out of your comfort zone.

I could have easily made this project as simple as words on a website. Don’t get me wrong, that would have been difficult in and of itself. But I’ve done variations of the same in the past and the best way for me to lose interest would have been to stick to my comfort zone. Taking on a new medium kept me interested throughout the entire semester and offered a new challenge.

6. Shit happens.

And on that note, global pandemics happen. We live in uncertain times and if this whole thing hasn’t blown over by the time Fall 2020 rolls around and you’re forced to live your senior year with two unexpected roommates (i.e. mom and dad), I feel you. If the majority of your social interaction in and out of the classroom is through a camera on your computer, I feel you. But this course is not meant to add to the anxieties and unknown that comes with this curveball. You have the power to tailor your project to whatever it is you want to commit your headspace to. Change it as many times as you wish. Take the day off. Take a walk. Take a breath.