There comes a moment in the life of every Communication Studies Colby-Sawyer senior when the dreaded e-mail appears in the inbox. In my case it was a short little note by professor Melissa Meade telling us about the mandatory Capstone meeting in a week’s time. Needless to say, although I had four years to think and plan, I was not ready when the note arrived.
The meeting, at the end of October, got the ball rolling. In the classroom we all sat, waiting to get our marching orders. Looking around no one seemed stressed but you could sense the feeling of uncertainty in the air. The last four months of our college careers lay in the hands of one professor during one meeting.
Everyone talks about the “C” word. The doom that takes the shape of the final hurdle to graduation. Being smart I did not approach the meeting cold turkey. Having gone and sat through three earlier Capstone presentations, I knew fully what kinds of projects the faculty would approve and more importantly what they would not approve. For instance, they told us that all on-campus clients resulted in projects that suck. Their language.
So, the next step…finding your client and writing the proposal. The criteria for a client is simple: work with a non-profit and help them with any communications needs. My first step was to hit up Google and search for “Non-Profits in New London, NH.” While this presented me with an abundance of choices, there were few I found appealing. I thought about my interests including which led to music, animals, and such but I just wasn’t feeling like I had found the one yet. Stressing out I was at a loss for what to do. Believing in God and the notion of him having a plan for all of us, I knew God already knew what I was going to do, I just did not know it yet.
There is a scene in David Wroblewski’s The Story of Edgar Sawtelle in which Edgar is naming his first litter of dogs. He looks through the dictionary trying to come up with names but he knows in his heart of hearts that he’s just waiting for the names to be revealed to him. That is exactly how I felt about choosing my client. I was more excited in anticipation than anything else. Also, if you have yet to read David Wroblewski’s brilliant novel, I suggest you do so. Edgar is one of my top 10 literary characters of all time and reading him is such a joy. Edgar Sawtelle is right up there with Holden Caulfield, Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn, and Atticus Finch. He is a boy for the ages.
Anyway, in choosing my project, I saw that The New London Inn did a program where they work with a different non-profit each week. Called Thursday’s Child, they host a dinner each Thursday where funds are raised in support of that week’s non-profit. I met with the owner of the inn and needless to say, he did not go for my idea. Not used to such right out rejection, I did not know what to do. I am not one to have a “Plan B.”
After thinking for a while, I thought about expanding my horizons out of the greater New London area. I am fortunate to have an escape house (or condo) in Bretton Woods, a town and ski area an hour and a half north of New London nestled in the White Mountains. Living right on the ski mountain is an idyllic experience. The beauty of the natural world is beyond words.
The non-profit I came up with is right at the ski area; Bretton Woods Adaptive. Part of Disabled Sports USA, BWA adapts winter sports to the disabled. They give a worthy service to those who do not let adversity stand in the way of living a normal life. I called them up and had a bit of trouble getting them on the phone which took about a week. In the end they accepted my offer to help them out for a semester.
After meeting with them and learning about what they do, I could not be happier with my client. I am working directly with Miriam Russell who is easily one of the best supervisors I have ever had on a project because she is prompt in answering e-mails, something that is critical when working on a project of this size.
The other benefit to working for Miriam is that I am being kept on my toes. When most of my peers are just beginning their projects, I am already two weeks in and getting all my tasks done no matter how many re-writes I have to complete to get a finished project. I’ve had to complete a press release for their upcoming Winter Blast, write a one page back story on the history of adaptive skiing, a PSA for the winter blast and design a newsletter for them. That is just in the first two weeks of the semester. A lot to do but this is Capstone after all.
Beyond these first two weeks, I have little insight to what the rest of the semester has in store. I know I will have many more projects coming my way and I say bring them on. I was nervous at first to send items to BWA because I really wanted to impress them and so far I have done just that. With the coveted Capstone Award on the line, I need to keep my eye on the prize.