theBridge to Capstone // Realizing my potential and finishing the race!

Reaching my final semester, I knew this class, Senior Capstone, loomed before me.  All at once I was terrified, but excited, because I didn’t know what I would do for my project.  However, I knew the possibilities were pretty endless.  Over and again the semester before, I heard capstone students advising people to begin working on it before they even register, or at the very least know exactly what you’re going to do.  This intimidated me, because I am the chief of the procrastinator squad, and I had no idea what I was going to do.  Luckily for me, being a Strategic Comm concentration, my focus was already narrowed for me.  Furthermore, remaining true to myself, I didn’t quite decide on my topic until it was time for my first director meeting, but it wasn’t long until the plan set and I began plugging away.


I chose for my capstone to do something that hit close to home.  I’m a member at a local church in Jefferson county, with a very missional focus.  Last summer we set our sights on Haiti as our next place of outreach and had an amazing week of ministry there.  I’ve been pretty much dying to go back since we returned at the end of June 2014, and I’m happy to be returning to the orphans we served in just a couple of months.  During my time there I took a lot of photos, being the portrait photographer I am — yes, you can check my work HERE and then fill out that nice contact form at the bottom of my site, because I would be STOKED to photograph you and everyone else you know — I wanted to remember all of those little faces and moments.  When I came back to the States I was inspired to create a devotional book out of the photographs, using reflections from the Haiti team members in conjunction with my visual perspective to give people a genuine look and a spiritual view of what took place in that magical week. Flash forward about eight months and that book took form. 

I created the book as a fundraising medium, entitling it, theBridge to Hope.  The devotional book would be marketed to my church, theBridge’s, congregation and the Christian community in the area as a primary and secondary audience to raise funds to send with our team for the next trip.  I created a campaign that would promote and sell the book to specifically provision the orphanage, Life Is Hope, we were going to minister to.  Being that the project touched on so many personal aspects that really make up who I am — a photographer, a servant, a Christian, and, yes, a strategic communicator — I received a huge impact over the course of the semester.  Moreover, the class put into effect everything that I’ve learned in my four years in the department.  This was particularly big for me, because I don’t think of myself as I student; I’ve never particularly enjoyed school.  When I stopped to realize that the Communication Department at Shepherd University empowered me to realize all of my skill sets into a singular focus (i.e. this project), I understood that I was could use all of my interests and combine them to do things that I love.  From childhood I’ve been a creative, and growing up I formed a business savvy about me, and the Comm. department brought every piece of that out of me, even if it was sometimes like pulling teeth for them to do it.  Capstone — and my undergraduate career in the Communication & New Media department in general — challenged me to use all of my assets and truly realize my potential.  I’m proud of my accomplishments, and if weren’t for the amazing Comm. faculty, I don’t think I’d be able to say that finally: I’ve done it.  I’m finished.

You can take a look at the book, just follow this link!


Life On Cassette

My name is Melanie Williams. I’m a soon-to-be graduate of Shepherd University. I will be receiving my B.S. in Communication & New Media.

I’d like to tell you about my senior capstone.

The past three months were full of blogs, Adobe Audition, research, technical malfunctions, sweat and tears.

Coming into the senior capstone course, I didn’t know what I wanted to accomplish. When in doubt, I always start from the beginning.

When I was younger, my life was on cassette. I had a hand-me-down collection of various musical artists to compliment several recitals and plays I participated in throughout early childhood.

I also had auditory processing disorder, a challenge that 5% of young children come across. Basically, my brain and ears didn’t coordinate. It was embarrassing and kids picked on me for it.

I remember going to the audiologist, sitting in a giant glass box, wearing over-sized headphones, and hitting a red button for every time I heard a beep.

My mother loved playing piano and came up with the idea to teach me in hopes that it would train my ears. I showed quick improvement and ever since then, I’ve been hooked on music. It’s my therapy and passion.

With this in mind, I began my project knowing two things: I want to write music and I want to support others who rely on music to help get them through life’s various challenges.

My director, Professor Matt Kushin, really helped me sow my ideas together. childhood songThe result: a campaign for The American Music Therapy Association. I wrote a short album and ordered customized wristbands. For a sneak peak of this album, find me on or follow this link.

For every donation of $5 or more the donor received a CD and wristband.

In the end, I more than doubled my original donation goal of $100 but didn’t meet my $300 goal. I donated the ending total of $225.00 to the American Music Therapy Association on April 26th, 2015.

donationproof  Prior to the capstone class, I was feeling rather unprepared for life post-college. The entire process was stressful. However, I truly feel I realized my potential and proved myself to not only my professors but my peers as well.

The final presentation was the best part of the experience. My poster turned out very nice. ( check it out: Melanie_Final Poster) My colleagues and I were able to strut our stuff, hang out, and eat brownies.

Crossing the finish line is great but crossing the finish line with a bunch of peers who went through the same experience, that’s even better.

True Life: I Got an MBA After Earning an Undergraduate Degree

Hello again! If you have not already done so, please check out my first and second blog, as this is a three part series about my life after graduating from the Shepherd University Department of Communication. In my final blog, I will be discussing my journey through the MBA program at Shepherd University.

To be completely honest, as graduation was approaching, I felt unsure about my future. Before starting college, I anticipated going to graduate school. But I was confused as to the school or even the program. After mulling over this for several months during my senior year at Shepherd, I decided to apply to the MBA program at Shepherd. Not only did I expect this degree to assist in my career, I felt I would personally gain a lot from this degree, which was equally important to me.

Because I did not have a clear career path in front of me, I was intrigued to learn more about business and management, in the hopes that maybe I could even open up my own business one day. During the MBA program, I learned about finances including accounting and economics, but also enjoyed classes about marketing, international business, and leadership. These classes were not easy. I had to push myself and spend hours at a time working to complete assignments. Fortunately, the communication department gave me a solid foundation, so I felt prepared while working through the program.

For example, I was required to complete a research project in the MBA program. But this wasn’t my first time doing such a project. During my senior year in the Department of Communication, I completed a COMM 461 Senior Capstone where I applied what I had learned throughout my time as a communication student to complete a semester-long individual project. My MBA research project required me to work with less guidance than I got as an undergraduate. But, I was confident and ready to complete this project because of my capstone experience during my time in the communication department.

I jumped into the MBA program full force in 2013, and I am preparing to graduate this May!

I am not just walking away from this experience with a degree. I am walking away with knowledge, experience, and pride. I was recently promoted at my job, and truly believe I had an edge over other applicants because of my ongoing work towards my MBA. Also, I feel confident in my career and comfortable speaking about the company with our financial experts. Overall, applying for the MBA program was one of the best decisions I made.

At times, motivation can be hard to find, but the work is well worth it.

So, this is my journey from student to career to earning my MBA. I wish everyone the best that is graduating this year and will be happy to see you at the graduation ceremony!