The first week in May kicked off the BLI's annual Capstone Bootcamp. This 5-day intensive training is designed to prepare student teams for their eight-month Capstone project. Each day was packed with activities designed to grow teams’ capacities in project planning, research and assessment, working with communities, and teamwork. Over the week they met esteemed mentors working in various fields who shared their expertise, knowledge, and guidance and helped teams refine their project plans.  

We truly value all of the supporters who shared their time and experience with our students during the week including,

Lisa Garcia, a recent graduate in International & Comparative Studies, and Graham Sustainability Scholar, and Tariq Mekkaoui, Director of Heal-Move-Shift, Program Assistant at the Office of Health Equity and Inclusion at Michigan Medicine and former Capstone team leader, led a research-themed speed-dating session. During this activity, each team shared research questions they plan to explore over the summer and received feedback from the BLI staff, Lisa, and Tariq. The teams were able to share their vision and gain diverse perspectives in return.

Esra Ascigil, a Ph.D. student in the Psychology department, led a Literature Review workshop. Teams learned the importance of literature reviews, how to find and evaluate information, and summarize information to present their research findings.

Andrea Belgrade, BLI Graduate Assistant and Psychology Graduate Student, led a workshop on Qualitative Research Methods, and Lester Sim Wei Xiang, Psychology Ph.D. student, and Singapore Management University Overseas Ph.D. Scholar, led a Quantitative Research Methods workshop. These discussions provided an opportunity for teams to establish and advance their understanding of research through a critical exploration of important research language and methodological approaches.

Ebony Reddock, Ph.D., MPH, and Bryan Frederick, from the Program Evaluation Group at the School of Social Work Program, led an Evaluation & Assessment workshop which focused on how evaluation differs from research, crafting questions to measure outcomes, identifying indicators, and selecting data collection methods.  

Jessica Selzer, a recent graduate in Education and former Mindful Leader program member, led the teams in a visioning exercise and a talk on Mindful Leadership. A Capstone participant reflected that they, “liked the personal reflections ... It was really important to take a moment and be introspective because, with all the logistical stuff we’re doing, we can lose sight of our [original] plans & motivations.”

Stephanie Ralls, Student Outreach and Engagement Coordinator with Ginsberg Center led a Working with Communities workshop, and Nitesh Singh, Curriculum Coordinator with Community-Engaged Academic Learning (CEAL), led a Cultural Humility workshop. Stephanie and Nitesh’s workshops led to a Working with Communities’ panel followed by a speed-dating exercise featuring, Mary Heinen, Program Coordinator, Co-Founder of Prison Creative Arts Project, Mary Schlitt, Former Chief Development Officer, Food Gatherers, Steve Bodei, Associate Director, Student Life Leadership Education, Laura Milstead, Graduate student, Ford School of Public Policy and Intern, Detroit Mayor’s Office, Kelia Washington, Recent graduate of Ford School of Public Policy and the School of Education, and Fatema Haque, Founding Board Member, Rising Voices of Asian American Families. The speed dating allowed teams to practice and refine their pitches on the spot, as well as receive balanced feedback and fresh perspectives from the panelists. The Capstone participants found the content beneficial and an important practice to be introspective, and reflect on their own behaviors.

On the final day of the Bootcamp, the teams presented their project to the cohort, BLI staff, and the final group of regarded panelists. They engaged in a round-robin session where each team met individually with the panelist who judged their presentations and provided even more valuable feedback and advice. The panel was comprised of Alexandra Goldman, Associate with Baird Capital’s Venture Capital Team, Ryan Gourley, Assistant Director of Student Ventures, TechArb, Dorine Lawrence-Hughes, Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Education, LSA, Ellen Gershanov London, Treasurer and Founding Board Member of the London Idea, Marie Ting, Ph.D., Associate Director, National Center for Institutional Diversity, and Katelyn Videto, Philanthropic Services Manager, Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation

The BLI is grateful to have such remarkable support within our UM community, our local community, and beyond for the Capstone program. Please read more about the teams' experiences and reflections on our Student Voices Blog, and sign up here if you would like to be kept up to date on their progress which will culminate at a final showcase on December 6.