Advice to Fall 2020 Capstone

By the time you’re reading this, so much will have changed. Will you be online? Will you be in-person? I can’t say. Either way, you were probably looking forward to your Writing Capstone being just like you Gateway – a tight-knit group of writers that meet twice a week to discuss their writing and make cool things – and I’m here to tell you that that is still possible, no matter if you’re online or not.

Before the criticisms start bubbling up in your brain, let me inform you that I do, in fact, have some basis for this claim. Unlike every other semester of Capstones, I was part of the Winter 2020 Capstone in which we spent the first half of the semester in-person and the second half online. I had the advantage of getting to know my classmates in-person before we were asked to move online, but I actually found our online interactions even more enjoyable and productive than our in-person ones. This may be due to the fact that it was the second half of the semester and not the first, as opposed to being an in-person vs. online thing, but I felt that being online and able to see everyone created a sense of community in a way that an airy, spaced-out classroom didn’t.

It is true that you will have to work harder at this than I did. You, potentially, could be meeting your classmates online for the first time and never seeing them in-person after that, but I have faith in you. Hopefully, by this point, you’re accustomed to using Zoom or BlueJeans or whatever program is being used (unless you’re in-person, then yay for in-person!), and, if your class is anything like mine was, you’ll adjust well.

My advice, then, boils down to this:

  1. Treat this like you would any other crazy adventure: roll with the unexpected, laugh when you can, and give other people (and yourself) a lot of grace and understanding if things start working out in ways that aren’t ideal.
  2. Communicate well and often. Gmail is your friend. (Well, maybe not your friend, but you get the idea.)
  3. Don’t be afraid to share your writing! The notebook reading series was one of my favorite parts of the class. The sooner everybody gets sharing, the sooner you start to get a feel for everyone’s voice as a writer. And the sooner that happens, the sooner online class will feel enjoyable.
  4. Give T (or whoever your professor is) a lot of your patience and kindness, but also make sure you reach out if you need anything at all. She’s super helpful and, honestly, one of the sweetest humans alive. You’re in good hands!
  5. Take your Capstone project one step at a time. Especially if you’re having to work from home, deadlines might seem more lax than they really are. Don’t get behind, but don’t stress out. A good (but flexible) schedule is better than winging it.

Hopefully this helps! And hopefully you won’t need to worry about the online bit, but who knows? Either way, have fun with it! This class can be a blast as long as you keep up with the work.

Enjoy yourself, and happy writing/creating! 🙂

an introduction to my project: in her words

Hey everyone!

I am excited to be finishing up my project, In Her Words. As you know by now, this is an oral history project that features audio clips from interviews I conducted this semester with my Nana, Trish Sylvester. In addition to audio, I have included a ton of old photographs, some memoirs, and reflections on the process of creating this project. I’ve really enjoyed working on this website, and although it wasn’t exactly what I set out to accomplish earlier in the semester, I am proud of what I have and honestly believe that I will continue to update and add to the content I have now.

I genuinely enjoyed (most aspects of) creating this project and I hope you enjoy checking it out! I am grateful for all of the thoughtful feedback and advice I have received throughout the semester.

Capstone has been a highlight of my weeks these past few months and I am glad to have gotten to know all of you talented people better over the course of the semester. I’ve loved seeing your progress during workshops and I’m so excited to dive deeper into everyone’s websites with all of this new free time over the next few weeks.

Here’s my link:

Skins of Dirt and Dust is now LIVE (get it?)

Hello, world.

I hope you’re having the best day possible, whenever and wherever you’re reading this. And if you’re not, I hope my project can help.

My Capstone project, titled Skins of Dirt and Dust, is a series of memoir essays (with cool pictures) that explore the muddled nature of life and how good and bad, beginning and end, life and death, etc. are all kind of wrapped up into one giant jumble that can be difficult to untangle. As such, I seek to work through what made certain bad times/endings difficult for me in my life, and then I seek to change my perspective on it – with you along for the ride.

So far, I’ve covered topics of grief and loss (the death of someone I loved), mortality and health (fearing for my life and struggling with ongoing health issues), disappointment and fear (COVID-19 and the end of my senior year of college – need I say more?), etc. I’m hoping to add another essay on hope and heartbreak (aka singleness) soon, but stay tuned. With any luck, this won’t be the last you’ll hear from me!

And now, for your viewing pleasure, my website:

If you don’t like it, thanks for giving it a peek anyway, and you can stop reading now.

But if you do like it, yay! That means all the hard work I and my classmates (through workshops and other feedback sessions) put in to making this website the best it can be paid off. And for that, I am glad.

See, all about perspective.

Now, because I am truly exhausted and more than slightly delirious (and the assignments for this class are the last things I have to turn in for the entirety of my college coursework), please indulge me in saying a few more things before I sign off:

I want to thank T, Louis, and all my classmates for helping me put this project together. I want to thank my mom for helping me find pictures, look up dates I’d forgotten, and for making me oatmeal when I was too tired to think about anything other than this project (aka this morning after 1 hour of sleep).

I want to thank my Gateway classmates for kicking things off right, and I want to thank my Capstone classmates (again) for wrapping things up fittingly. Y’all were (and still are) the best. Thank you for being bright spots in this whole online-class/shutdown/quarantine mess.

In short: Love y’all. Miss y’all. Need sleep. Enjoy website! Goodnight, America.

Capstone Project: Zero Waste Eating on a Budget

I can’t believe this semester is already over. I still remember the beginning of the term when I was trying to brainstorm and choose project ideas. I am now excited to present my finished Capstone project.

For my project, I chose to challenge myself, for the first time, to reduce waste by living two weeks without producing any food waste, including waste from food packaging. My experience and research conducted during the challenge was documented in a blog and video. I am so glad that I chose to do this project because I learned so much about everyday environmental habits and even video editing. It was also really fun. As a college student, I understand how time and finances may be drawbacks to eating zero waste, but through this challenge, I know it is possible! I hope you learn a lot from the research I incorporated into the blog posts, maybe even sparking more of your interest in environmental sustainability.

Thank you everyone for providing feedback on my drafts all along the way and helping me develop this project.

a small taste of: myclosetedthoughts.

the color of shadows.

everything under the sun has a shadow. and each shadow is more or less the same color.

while i’m aware a shadow on red velvet starkly contrasts a shadow on your yellow sundress, the “shade” is still the same.

there has been a grain of black paint mixed into its complexion––how does one mix colors to find a shadow?

the more i think of it, the more shadows fascinate me. they are what give our world perspective. we are naturally attracted to how shadows fall and grow tall.

they are visible in the day and night, forever attached to everything and everyone. the shadows are everywhere when one looks around, and yet we don’t take time to acknowledge or appreciate.

one fails to notice them anymore because we know the shadows are there, but they don’t catch our eye. however, without them, our world would look flat and fake.

anyway, what interests me in life is not what is easily shown in broad daylight but what those shapes and hues look like in the shadows. what do your shadows look like? 

i’m not asking for your biggest darkest deepest secret, although i’ll listen if you’d like to share. ​no, i speak of who you are in the realm between light and dark. the indescribable color you emanate when this shade of life is part of you.

i am opening “my closet” doors, for people to read some of my closeted thoughts, fears, and secrets. my motive behind creating this with such personal content is to “come out” with a lot of different discoveries and thoughts i’ve crossed during my undergraduate career. i feel as though young college students and young adults today take less time revealing who they really are inside. understandably, being vulnerable leaves an opportunity to be judged or abandoned. but i envision that my vulnerability and bravery to open up in this first collection may encourage others to relate and partake in conversations. click here to read more:

hello capstone friendos!

welcome to the club! you’ve probably never met me, as i don’t know who is reading this, but we have a few things in common, i already know. as i am leaving and you are entering, we are in our last class for our Minor.  we are undergoing a bizarre quasi-virtual reality because of this pandemic. but we are still here because we love what we do: we love to write. we love to create. we love to connect. and we love to read and learn. 

quite frankly, i don’t have a ton of advice because i’m sure you kind of know what you want to create in this project. by now, after experiencing different courses at U of M to complete the Minor, you have probably been exposed to all sorts of genres, and hopefully you have found your strengths and weaknesses, you know which topics interest you when you write––you have found a clearer sense of your voice. 

and so i can only say––like the former capstone friends told me when i was in your shoes now––trust the process. trust your mentors. utilize your resources. and most importantly trust yourself throughout the whole project. 

you will finish the project on time.

you will find the courage to interview someone.

you may feel like you don’t know what you want to do.

and you will probably change your mind a gazillion times along the way. i have, so have my classmates. and definitely everyone before you have as well. ebb and flow with trust.

i realize this is almost like a pep talk, and i honestly didn’t mean for it to come off this way. i just want to be that voice, advocating for you because i think most fear stems from this idea that you might not like what you created by the end of the semester, or it’ll not meet your standards. i sure feel that way, even when i have a few weeks left. but when you––and me too, i am almost speaking to myself now––care about something so much, you’ll create this beautiful thing that will stand its own, and it will even invite you later to create and build some more. Isn’t that the best part of what we do?

happy writing friendos!


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.

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:

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:

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: !