Coronavirus affects senior capstones

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Oklahoma State switched to online classes in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and that has caused changes for many senior capstone classes.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic and transition to online classes, seniors at Oklahoma State University now have to complete their “lasts” remotely until the delayed graduation ceremony in December.

One of these “lasts” is senior capstone projects.

Capstone projects are a typical way for seniors to complete their degrees. These projects depend on the specific major a student has, but most include hands-on learning that incorporates real-world experience.

Brittany Felts, a hospitality and tourism management senior, will complete her final year at OSU with online capstone projects.

Felts only had nine credits to complete in her final semester. Her courses include Capstone Leadership Experience and International Beverage Tasting. Her International Beverage Tasting course was canceled as other courses were moved online.

“I have been looking forward to that class for a few semesters now,” Felts said about her International Beverage Tasting course.

The main project to be completed in Felts’ capstone class is to work with 20 classmates to plan an entire event. The members split into areas of the project such as culinary, beverages, events and marketing/finance. The students were to start with the design of a food menu and what it would consist of.

Now that each of Felts’ classmates cannot meet in person, Facetime and GroupMe have been utilized to continue on with the project. Originally, two oral presentations were to be created, but now, the group will work on a written-style presentation.

“It’s been hard getting everyone on the same track since no one is in Stillwater anymore,” Felts said.

Animal science senior Natasha Green's senior project also had to be altered to accomadate the online classes. For Green's class, the students are required to write a research paper and do a presentation on a topic of their choice. Green chose to do hers over law enforcement dogs.

Had classes continued normally, Green would have done her 10 minute presentation in class. Instead, Green had to record herself giving her presentation and then upload the video to a discussion post in Canvas. She and her classmates had to watch the videos and comment on them with questions and other feedback.

"It's honestly more time consuming because you have to wait for people to upload and then you have to ask questions about it," Green said. "Time zones are a big part of it because, living in Arizona now, 9:59 is my 11:59. It's a lot more time management and a lot of planning."

Green said she would have preferred to give her presentation in class, but the advantage to doing it online was that she could start over when she messed up so she knows the video she submitted was her best work.

For Felts, classes are not the only things that have changed; her graduation plans have also changed because of the pandemic.

“I will be entering the hospitality industry, and at the moment, that is what is hurting within the economy,” Felts said. “I am very people and experience oriented, and with restaurants closed and events canceled, it has changed what I am looking for within my job search.”

Felts said she has job interviews lined up, but they keep getting postponed because of the pandemic. She plans to move to Dallas, Texas, after graduation to continue her job search.

Also a member of Kappa Delta sorority, Felts said she has been looking forward to activities as a senior for years.

“When we got the email that we were going to be permanently online, I cried,” Felts said.“I felt that everything that I have been working towards was taken away from me.”

Felts said that she wants everyone that gets to return to OSU in the future to enjoy every moment.

As OSU’s graduation is postponed instead of canceled, Felts said she is thankful and looks forward to a trip back to Stillwater.

“I will be able to reconnect with friends and we will still get the recognition that we deserve from the university.” Felts said.