“The important thing is not to stop questioning.”Albert Einstein
The last few weeks
This coming week will be the last week of classes of my undergrad career. It seems almost impossible that soon I will graduate from college. With the finish line in sight, I have begun to reflect on my senior year and all that I have learned from it including my capstone.
At the Beginning
At the beginning of the year, I had no idea what I wanted to do for my capstone. I had taken so many amazing classes and had so many different ideas on what I wanted to research. It took a while to narrow down a topic. Which was the first thing this capstone process taught me: how to combine different interests to create a compelling research topic. I connected my interests in forestry, policy, and international systems to create my capstone: Populism in the Forest.
Stuck in the Middle
After getting over the first hurdle of figuring out what I wanted to study there were now other issues to address. It was easy to get stuck thinking about the big picture and I often found myself wondering how I was going to get everything done in time. It was extremely important to manage my time properly. This capstone process helped me learn how to break down large tasks into more manageable pieces. While there were still some late nights I felt like I was making progress slowly but surely.
The Ups and Downs
Once I finally started writing my paper it felt like I was taking three steps forward and two steps backward. Progress would come in waves where I was able to write a lot but then it wouldn’t make sense with the rest of the paper. I would write and then have to reconfigure everything I had already written to make the paper flow. I had to learn to be ok with the initial plans changing while I was writing. Although I had written an outline before I started writing things changed and I had to learn to adapt. With such a large project it was unrealistic to expect everything to go exactly as planned which was a good lesson to learn.
Finally coming together
The last few weeks had been hard to feel motivated both in life and completing my thesis. Things just weren’t coming together fast enough. It wasn’t until a peer feedback session we had last week that made me feel like I might have something worth sharing. Up until that point, other people had only read sections of my paper. I was nervous that the argument I was making didn’t make sense. I was reassured during that class that I did have a complying strong argument. Although there are still a few things that I need to fix I am now more confident in my capstone. Having a project that I have been working on for an entire academic year has been hard and stressful but a good experience overall.