by Mala Sharma
Hi everyone! My name is Mala and I am a recent graduate in Biology with a minor in ‘freaking out about my honors capstone project’. For all of those honors students that are in or will be in the same minor discipline as me, I have written this blog post about my capstone project journey in hopes that it a) makes you feel better about your own project/you can learn from my mistakes and b) it de-mystifies the whole process.
Starting from the top:
- Start talking to professors about becoming mentors about 1-2 semesters before you are going to start working on your project. Advice from a professional procrastinator: do not wait the week before the proposal deadline. The deadline for project proposal submission is Sept 21 and Feb 21 for those presenting in the Spring and Fall, respectively.
- Fill out all the forms with as much detail as possible. This will trick people into thinking that you know what you are doing. But more importantly, it will prevent you from having to do a re-write if the honors committee doesn’t think there is enough content for a project. Here is a link to the forms that you will need to submit: https://www.honors.iastate.edu/uhp/Project_forms.php
- Make it meaningful. Don’t just do anything so that you can check off one of the requirements for graduation. Pick a project that you’re passionate about otherwise you’ll be grumpy when you have to wake up at 5 am on Saturdays so that you can get your DNA samples PCRed, digested, and run on a gel before the sun sets.
- Once you’ve got your data, put it into some presentable form whether it is a poster or a creative expression. Again, start doing this early. The Honors Symposium is usually during dead week so if you wait the day before to start making your poster, you’ll be stressed, your roommates will be stressed, Janet at the printing lab will be stressed… Also, s/o to Janet for getting my poster printed two hours before the symposium. She’s the real MVP.
- Put some concealer on under your eyes to hide the dark circles. Finish this look with some snazzy business professional clothing and head on out to the Great Hall at the MU to present your project. I suggest having two kinds of speeches ready. Have a short, 1-2 minutes long speech with big picture concepts for those that are not in your discipline. Have a longer 5 minute speech with big, fancy words for those that are in your discipline.
- After the symposium is the convocation where you get your HONORS MEDALLION! Cherish it forever or at least a week so that you can wear it at graduation!