My group, the Migrant Education Initiative, started in the Barger Leadership Institute (BLI)’s Leadership Lab as a small project. We applied for the Capstone program because we knew we wanted to make this project into a sustainable program with the guidance and resources of the BLI. By the end of the Capstone, our idea turned into a diversity initiative and a partnership between the Van Buren Intermediate School District (VBISD)’s migrant program and the University of Michigan. My partner and I also gained extensive research experience that we will carry with us throughout our futures.

The Capstone program started with a “bootcamp” week that introduced the Capstone cohort to all the resources available in the BLI as well as on campus. One particular workshop I found valuable was the Ginsberg Center’s talk on entering and exiting communities. As someone entering a community I did not directly belong to, the workshop gave insight on how our identities and privileges are able to affect how the citizens of our community would view us during our visits. Another helpful workshop was the BLI funding workshop outlining how to structure a grant proposal, budget, and receive funds. These skills are valuable for anyone thinking of during research in their graduate studies or beyond.

Along with my team’s development, we also got to see how the other teams in the cohort transformed their project with our bootcamp showcase compared to the final Capstone showcase. I will always appreciate everything I took from the Capstone experience and hold the Migrant Education Initiative I co-created close to me.