Communication arts seniors to showcase capstone projects

Photo credit/ Rachel Sweeney

Senior communication arts majors pose for their official senior capstone photo. Back row from left to right: John-Michael Occhipinti, Kathryn Paterson, Tatim Brace, Owen Karoscik, Elysabethe Brown, Brielle Mayle, Caitlyn Custer and Joseph Petro. Front row from left to right: Erica Nealon, Jordyn Ogonosky, Shalon Corrigan, Autumn Gramigna and Rachel Mizanty.

Autumn Granza, Community Editor

Seniors from the communication arts program will have the chance to show off their expertise at this years’ Capstone presentations.

After four years of studying advertising/public relations, broadcast journalism, or digital media, 13 seniors will present their senior projects to a room of supportive faculty, staff, and fellow classmates on  April 25 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Media Center room 160.

“I think putting together this program allowed each one of us to take the experiences we have from the four years and apply it to an area of communication we feel a strong connection to,” said Autumn Gramigna, communication arts major. “Whether it be filming a documentary or starting a school newspaper, each one of us gets the opportunity to showcase our strengths. Through this program we are able to hone our craft and better our presentation skills.”

All graduating seniors are required to create a senior capstone. For communication arts majors, a senior seminar is required. This years’ is titled “The Craft of Storytelling.” All of the projects revolve around this theme. The presentation is a celebration of the students and their hard work throughout the semester as they come together as a class to watch each other’s ideas come to life.

Dr. Douglas Lawrence, associate professor of communication arts, has been working with the seniors as well as offering his guidance as they prepare their projects.

“My role is to be the facilitator,” said Lawrence.

The capstone project is required to be relative to each student’s major and concentration. Dr. Lawrence has gone through a process with each senior. First, each senior pitched an idea and he gave feedback. Then, students revised pitch, and after one more round of feedback from Lawrence, students made the final pitch to the class. This allowed for a collaborative effort as students gave feedback to one another and helped with their concept process.

Students can also help with some aspects of their classmates’ projects, such as filming, but each senior is his or her own individual producer.

“This year is more of an experience,” said advertising/public relations major Caitlyn Custer. “This brings more to the table for years to come. It is set up to invite younger students, potential employers, and families to see a showcase of what we’ve done.”

There are a few changes that make this year’s senior seminar different from years past. The first is that within the class, committees were formed. An event crew committee and a promotion committee.

“I think this year’s batch of seniors is exuberant and involved,” said digital media major, Brielle Mayle. “We took the initiative to better this year’s senior capstone project. There will be lunch and a red carpet event feel.”

The other difference is that the expectation for the quality of all of the projects has gone up. If classmates are struggling or need help, then everyone should pitch in.

“Everybody is holding everyone else accountable,” said Lawrence.

Also different this year is the presentation format. In year’s past, students were expected to produce a project (film, television show, documentary) that would last 30 minutes. This year, projects are trimmed to 15 minutes so that students can use the remaining 15 minutes to discuss the concepts behind the projects with the audience in a presentation format.

“We wanted the projects to be a little more personal… We wanted people to know the presenters a little bit more,” said Lawrence. “The idea is to make this more their day… up-close and personal.”

The seniors have also been trying to promote the capstone presentations to a larger audience. Rachel Sweeney, administrative secretary, took a photograph of all the seniors. The photo can be seen around campus or while surfing social media sites.

“That was like their class picture,” said Lawrence. “Everyone dressed nice and did their hair and makeup.”

A video was also made of all the seniors. In the video each senior describes his or her project. Another addition made this year is a senior book. The senior book will be screenshots from everyone’s work, including what they did and bios about each senior. They will leave the book behind for future seniors and Marywood students.

“I think [the capstone] does two things,” said Lawrence. “I think it gives inspiration to the underclassmen who soon will be seniors doing their projects. The other thing that it does is makes a link between the seniors and people will follow them in the future. What we hope the day will be is a celebration and a triumph, almost like a rite of passage.”