Pandemic Threatened Class of 2020s Capstone Projects
May 6, 2020
SALT LAKE CITY – Westminster’s Class of 2020 finished their undergraduate college experience like no other class before it. They are the first class since the 1918 flu to graduate in the midst of a global pandemic. The Class of 2020 is also the first to graduate under Westminster’s overhauled liberal arts curriculum called WCore. The pandemic threatened a final requirement of WCore – a capstone project, one of the ways Westminster students bring all their skills together before heading to graduate school or into the workforce. This is the first year all seniors are required to complete a WCore capstone project and present it to the community in order to graduate. The coronavirus pandemic forced the college to cancel all events and move classes online – making capstone presentations seemingly impossible. But Westminster seniors found creative ways to complete their projects, present their work and graduate. In performing arts, student recitals normally held in front of a crowd of friends, family and professors, were performed via YouTube live.
Communication majors all must take a senior portfolio course. They work all year to
curate their work, develop a strong résumé and personal brand. The communication program’s
portfolio showcase was held via Zoom this year with students, professors, alums and
college staff. Students presented their portfolios and answered interview style questions
just as they would have in person – to small groups in breakout rooms.
Westminster’s six graduating art majors scrapped all the exhibit planning they had in place which included a live band and food truck, and moved their gallery show online. Students fulfilled their capstone project by creating a website with artist statements and a tour of their works. “Moving our work online seemed like an obvious solution and we feel grateful that Westminster recognized our website as a qualifying capstone,” said graduating senior, Summer Huddleston. It took some extra time to photograph our work and modify some of our presentations, but we were able to pull it together and present a virtual experience that we are all proud of.”
The pandemic also interrupted important presentations to NASA by Westminster science students. The majority of students conducting research at Great Salt Lake through the Nasa Space Grant program are seniors. They should have presented their findings in person at the Utah NASA Space Grant Consortium this spring. NASA still received the important work through digital submissions.
Perhaps Westminster’s largest display of student work occurs at the day-long Undergraduate Conference. Dozens of students present their capstone projects with posters and digital displays to a constant stream of guests. To meet WCore requirements, the conference became a virtual event. A dedicated group of faculty and staff turned the conference into a virtual event on the college website.
“Westminster students did incredible work in the most challenging of circumstances,”
said Debbie Tahmassebi, provost of Westminster College. “The way they completed WCore capstone projects is evidence of the critical thinking skills they’ve gained at Westminster.
Skills that will see them through the uncertainty ahead.”
To learn more about WCore visit www.westminstercollege.edu/wcore.
Westminster is a private, independent, and comprehensive college in Salt Lake City, Utah. Students experience the liberal arts blended with professional programs in an atmosphere dedicated to civic engagement. With the goal of enabling its graduates to live vibrant, just, and successful lives, Westminster provides transformational learning experiences for both undergraduate and graduate students in a truly student-centered environment. Faculty focus on teaching, learning, and developing distinctive, innovative programs, while students thrive on Westminster’s urban Sugar House campus within minutes of the Rocky Mountains.