Capstone Bootcamp Reflection

Our project idea before boot camp was to create a box that could transport vaccines over long distances and be stored at cool temperatures that vaccines need to be stored in. We had an idea that there were some places we wanted to implement it in, such as Pakistan and Yemen, through connections we had already established.

Over the course of boot camp, we learned about how many other stakeholders are involved in the implementation process and how there would be many other people we need to contact, from regulators to other community partners. We also figured out which research methods would be most helpful to obtain the data we were looking for. Additionally, we developed a clearer picture of how we would evaluate our success. Lastly, we received a lot of great feedback on our pitch and how we can best present our idea.

One specific personal highlight that we all agree was really cool and helpful was the development of our vision statement which helped us see what our goals were for the future and what work we would have to do in order to get there. Overall, the BLI boot camp was crucial in the development of our project.

By, Essam Alsnayyan, Sikander Khan, Huzaifa Piperdi

Project Healthy Schools Global

Capstone Bootcamp Reflection

Our project idea prior to the Capstone bootcamp included a preventive health education curriculum that was focused on soley diet and nutrition. Project Healthy Schools Global began in 2015, and in 2017 we launched our first pilot run of the program throughout Dhaka, Bangladesh reaching over 200 students. Our team had the advantage of already running a pilot program, however, we still had a lot of room for development.

Throughout the bootcamp, our team received an abundance of valuable and constructive feedback, from other members of our cohort to the panelists we met through speed dating, about how our project can grow and what steps we can take to ensure that it is sustainable. One of the ways that we believed that our project could expand is by making our health education curriculum more comprehensive and capturing the various dimensions of health present in developing countries.

Being culturally aware and sensitive to the community has always been a priority to our team, which is why we’ve, from the beginning, emphasized that our project is culturally adaptive. Though we have already taken steps to ensure that our project is culturally adaptive, the workshops and lessons that taught cultural humility and sensitivity were extremely helpful in recognizing possible unintended consequences and strategies to overcome these obstacles. Moreover, although we are all Bangladeshi, as we travel to Bangladesh in August to complete a needs assessment and engage with stakeholders, we will be seen as outsiders. Therefore, the “Cultural Humility” and ”Working With Communities” workshops were extremely beneficial; we must be aware of the identities we hold and remain cognizant of how our identities will intersect with the identities of the stakeholders we will engage with.

One of our personal highlights from Bootcamp was working alongside and collaborating with other student teams. It was inspiring to engage with other students who were passionate about their projects and genuinely desired to make a positive impact in the world. Seeing other students work hard motivated us to continue working passionately as well. Additionally, every stakeholder and panelist that participated in the bootcamp brought enthusiasm with them. It was wonderful being able to receive advice from people that have significant experience in their industry and that genuinely want to help students succeed. It was also meaningful making these important connections because they may be able to assist us with our projects in the future.

BLI provided numerous resources and guidance to us during this long week, but most noteworthy is the unwavering support that they provided to all the teams by creating a safe space that promoted learning, growth, and compassion.

By, Khadiza Begum, Joeita MacField, Faatimah Raisa

Host Your Voice

Capstone Bootcamp Reflection

The vision of Host Your Voice was to enable a nonprofit’s reach to more potential donors, volunteers, and individuals to be impacted by the nonprofit’s cause. When Amulya founded Host Your Voice 5 years ago, his initial vision behind the organization was to help nonprofits reach by teaching them how to apply for a Google advertising grant. Since then, Host Your Voice has scaled to over 10 plus countries and over 20 partners, including a partnership with the United Nations

One important aspect of the Bootcamp for Host Your Voice’s development was an emphasis on long-term feasibility and growth prospects financially for Host Your Voice. Since our beginning, it has been Host Your Voice’s mission to not commercialize nonprofits. As a result, it has been our goal during the Bootcamp to research “What other markets can Host Your Voice apply it’s marketing expertise to allow it’s team long term financial stability?”

Our mentor Kevin Finnegan was honestly one of the best mentors we could have asked for. We immediately knew he was the right fit when we met him. We could tell he cared a lot beyond project development – he wanted to help us on a personal level, too. Every day, he gave us extremely thoughtful feedback, and he pushed our minds to think beyond what we were used to. It was a pleasure working with him, and we’re really excited to continue our relationship with him.

One of our initial highlights of the bootcamp was our notice that we had won the London Idea Team award. It was truly an honor to win, and we can’t wait for the opportunity to collaborate with Ellen, Alex, and the foundation this upcoming summer.

We also loved talking to the rest of the cohort – every team had such brilliant individuals who were pursuing ambitious projects, and it was really motivating to hear about everyone’s personal stories/connections to their work.

By, Amulya Parmar, Varun Madan


Capstone Bootcamp Reflection

Before Boot Camp, the consequences of our stated goal hadn’t been fully fleshed out. The problem of recidivism, which we had set out to solve, is incredibly complex. In our initial pitches, we had stated that our organization aimed to reduce the recidivism rate through facilitating philosophical discussions. Over the course of Bootcamp, the GA’s as well as our guests helped us clarify and discover what the true focus of this project can be. As recidivism is a large and prevalent issue, there are key influencers of recidivism that we should try to target through our intervention. Instead, we have shifted our focus to measuring the effect of philosophical discussions on critical consciousness and well-being of the incarcerated individuals in our local communities. The research and deliverables completed during Boot Camp provided us with the confidence that something like this could actually have a real and lasting impact-if executed with careful planning and deep understanding. And so, Bootcamp was probably the best experience we could have asked for to better inform us of our project logistics. The overwhelming support and useful feedback provided to us throughout the week was invaluable. Specifically, the judges of our final presentations provided us with the following feedback that made us step back and think deeper about our project: to clarify our why (why are we interested in helping this specific population?), to clarify what our intended aim of using philosophical discussions is (see the effects on incarcerated individuals mindsets?), and to concretely be able to describe what research questions we will be pursuing and with what exact methods. We recognized that our idea appeared to be in the infancy stage and now need to seriously focus on executing an outcome.

By, Rhea Dhingra, Razeen Karim, Osama Saeed

Health Promotion at UM

Capstone Bootcamp Reflection

Health Promotion at UM is a student organization that hopes to improve the health of all people, especially the underserved, through volunteering in the local community and educating the public, while also building a close-knit community for our members to passionately apply medicine and public health to better the lives of others. Our capstone team is Leo Thompson, Monna Meng, and Grace Tremonti.

Before Bootcamp, our main goal was sustainability. We felt that the BLI and their resources could really help us think of ways to make the organization last for a long time, both on campus and out in the community. Although we had brainstormed many broad ideas to approach this goal of “sustainability,” including facilitating our volunteer growth, improving our marketing and recruitment, and optimizing operations, we had not really thought about specific ways we were going to implement it, or what our priorities should be.

One way our idea evolved during Bootcamp was that we shifted from mainly logistical goals to actually wanting to change the culture of our organization, and begin to market Health Promotion as a venue to engage in meaningful, long term service. This shift was really inspired by the things we learned in bootcamp, like starting to evaluate our programs and reflect on what we really want people— both target communities and volunteers— to get out of partnering and working with Health Promotion.

Our idea has also become much more focused, in the sense that we now have a clear idea of how to actually implement and test some of the ideas that we have. One example of this is that through our workshop on literature review, we were able to pinpoint ways to test our ideas on member recruitment and marketing for the club. Bootcamp helped us discover the practical applications of our ideas and how to go about actually making them happen.

Aside from the logistical clarity the BLI has provided us with during Bootcamp, we felt that preparing our pitch helped everyone on the team think deeply about their true purpose for pursuing the BLI Capstone for HPUM. Connecting with many experienced professionals has inspired us, given us many new ideas, and helped define our vision to a degree that would not have been possible without the Bootcamp. We would have never imagined the direction of HPUM could change so much is such a short period of time, and we are really excited to see where our summer research takes us!

By, Leo Thompson, Monna Meng, and Grace Tremonti

Training Wheels

Captone Bootcamp Reflection

Through the BLI Capstone Project, we were able to hash out a more detailed understanding and plan of our Capstone idea for an electric motorcycle. Before Capstone Bootcamp, the project idea was much simpler: we just wanted to build an electric motorcycle and create a build team for non-STEM students with a more relaxed culture. If we had interested applicants, we’d teach them the necessary engineering skills to work on the bike with us.

Bootcamp really allowed us to flesh out this idea more, and our current project idea is as follows: we aim to create a small team of students (10 or so) focused on giving non-engineering majors a beginner-friendly opportunity to develop technical skills and relevant soft skills that will make them more desirable to recruiters while giving them confidence in their professional and technical ability. The idea is that Training Wheels will focus on larger scope technical projects that require invested interdisciplinary effort to reach our lofty ambitions; in this case, since our project is in its infancy stage, we went ahead and chose an electric motorcycle, since we were both very interested in being able to build and ride one. Depending on if our team members want to continue on with the idea of Training Wheels, they can choose whatever they want for the subsequent projects, as long as each team member is interested.

Some of our personal highlights during boot camp was being able to reconnect with our primary motivators for this project. Training Wheels originated from our personal frustration with being unable to find a beginner-friendly build team on campus and unsuccessfully recruiting for engineering internships without relevant experience. Through Training Wheels, we want to pay-it-forward and try to help others struggling with career-related anxiety, in the same way our mentors had helped us with career development and professional confidence.

Activity wise, we greatly appreciated the pitch practices and feedback from both the BLI staff and active community members, as we really had no idea how to do that given our shared background in Mechanical Engineering. We also loved the opportunities to understand how Mindfulness concepts (active listening, generative listening, appreciative inquiry, cultural humility, etc) can apply to team/organizational settings, as once again, we don’t get that sort of training in Mechanical Engineering.

By, Kai Schiefer, Luke Wong

Capstone 2019 — The Teams

The Barger Leadership Institute is pleased to announce the 2019 Capstone Program teams! These six teams will engage in eight months of designing and implementing evidence-based, collaborative projects that seek to bring about small (and big) wins for the complex problems of today. After eight months of individualized mentorship, research and project management training, and many opportunities to master effective leadership habits.

Building Practical Skills, Practical Mindsets, and a Practical Electric Motorcycle
Kai Schiefer, Luke Wong
This team hopes to reduce carbon emissions by creating an electric motorcycle prototype and introduce technical and management skills to college and high school students.

Host Your Voice*
Amulya Parmar, Ankit Patel, Varun Madan
This team hopes to support nonprofit organizations in reaching more people through online and digital advertising.

arete (philosopy in prisons project)
Rhea Dhingra, Razeen Karim, Osama Saeed
This team hopes to improve in-prison rehabilitation by engaging current incarcerated members in facilitated discussions of philosophical texts.

Project Healthy Schools Global Initiative
Khadiza Begum, Faatimah Raisa, Joeita MacField
This team hopes to create a community-based movement for public health and prevention and promote health literacy. It also seeks to mobilize communities to address social disparities related to health and wellness, be it the disproportionately low access to healthy foods for students of low socioeconomic backgrounds or the limited access to exercise opportunities for young women.

Sikander Khan, Essam Al-Snayyan, Huzaifa Piperdi
This team hopes to design and distribute car battery-operated cold boxes to transport vaccines at an appropriate temperature over long distances.

Health Promotion at UM (HPUM)
Leo Thompson, Monna Meng, Grace Tremonti
This team hopes to improve the health of all people, especially the under-served, through volunteering in the local community and educating the public, while also building a close-knit community for their members to passionately apply medicine and public health to better the lives of others. Their Capstone goal is to achieve sustainability, facilitate volunteer growth by improving their marketing and recruitment, facilitate operational expansion, and optimize operations.

* The BLI and The London Idea are thrilled to name Host Your Voice as the London Idea Project for the 2019 Capstone Program! Learn more about the London Idea and the BLI partnership here.

Education and Community Service in Louisville, KY

Over spring break in 2018, a group of students from the U-M Muslim Students’ Association went on an Alternative Spring Break trip to Louisville, Kentucky. We explored the topic of Youth and Education by partnering with an amazing organization called Junior Achievement, which is dedicated to giving young people the skills they need to make smart economic choices. As I reflect on this trip, I’d like to first thank the BLI, which has been dear to my heart since I started at U-M, for granting us with the Small Grant that helped with our trip expenses. We wouldn’t have had the rewarding and reflective experience that we did without their generous contribution.

Every weekday, we woke up bright and early (6 am!) and went to an elementary school in Louisville to teach a lesson about financial literacy to students ranging from kindergarten to 4th grade. Every day, we visited a different school and taught lessons such as explaining the difference between needs and wants and assembling “Sweet-o-Donuts” to illustrate the importance of means of production. And every night before, our group members worked to learn the lesson plans that JA provided to us. We expected challenges in our classrooms and handled them with a determination to provide a good lesson for our students. We always asked our JA supervisor and our classroom teachers when we needed help.

We also explored the wonderful city of Louisville. We visited Muhammad Ali’s final resting place and were able to reflect on his life, legacy, and the role model he is for our own aspirations.We also toured the University of Louisville campus (Go Blue forever though), had ice cream with members of U of L’s Muslim Students’ Association, tried chess pie, and had dinner with the U-M Alumni Association of Louisville (again, Go Blue forever). And because we couldn’t get enough of the benefits of community service, our group also spent an evening volunteering at a mosque that served a large refugee population.

Through this trip, I gained 12 lifelong friends – my forever ASB family. The bonds that we made through our shared experiences volunteering are some I hope will last for a long time. Our trip was muddled with multiple, marvelous misadventures, including but not limited to: ice cream runs, basketball games, urgent care visits, getting lost in the woods, getting lost in the city, walking on the wrong bridge, broken pinkies, laughing about our embarrassing moments, creating every possible ASB-related pun in existence, driving in our favorite minivan—the list goes on. This trip would not have been what it was without every single one of our ASBunch.

Amidst all the fun, our group members also paused and reflected on our daily experiences every night. Community service isn’t just work that positively impacts the community—it is work for a purpose higher than yourself that does not only enrich the community you’re assisting but also provides a teaching opportunity. Our own Islamic faith encapsulates this idea. This opportunity also helped me truly grasp the impact of disparities due to residential segregation on students’ educational attainment. Items as seemingly mundane as eyeglasses or hearing aids could make a significant impact on a child’s learning ability. A positive attitude and encouragement to a child learning a concept they’re unfamiliar with speaks volumes. One of the schools had a large amount of ESL students, where language barriers hindered their ability to interact with their fellow students—yet these barriers can be lifted with the right kind of attention. In an area that is so nuanced but also so integral to our society, a policymaker has to be aware of all of these intersecting factors that affect education.

Our students ended up teaching us so much about ourselves. They all seemed to possess an innocent, almost naïve desire to learn. Their pure eagerness struck me, because it made me wonder how we lose that as adults. It seems that we get so caught up in working towards an end goal—whether a better grade, job, income, education, or future—that we lose sight of the knowledge and memories we gain along the way. What changes throughout our lives that diminishes that spark?

This is a question I asked as I reflected on myself as a leader and as a member of my community. Ultimately, this trip became such a life-changing and phenomenal avenue for personal growth. I recognized the value of prioritizing the goals that truly mattered to me, the importance of seizing every opportunity that came my way, and the ability to tangibly instill change with a smile on my face. As I returned to campus, that excitement never left. For the first time in a long time, I let all my stressors, academic deadlines, and extracurricular involvements go for a week, and by doing that, I was truly able to enjoy the work I did.

That week was easily one of the most rewarding and beneficial weeks of my life, and my hope is that all students at the University of Michigan get the opportunity to go on at least one ASB trip during their time here.

By Zoha Qureshi

Lupus: Michigan Student Awareness Project

As a new organization, our main goal for the Lupus Detroit @ Michigan Student Awareness
Project was to raise awareness about Lupus. Largely due to the demographics of the Ann Arbor campus, many students are unaware of the struggles undergone by Lupus patients and many do not even know what Lupus is. Therefore, we sought to teach as many students and faculty members as possible about Lupus while engaging them in a fun event.

Initially, we sought out to put on a comedy show where participants would pay to
attend the event and in return receive a great deal of information about the organization, thedisease, and how they could get involved. While our main aim for this event was raising
awareness, we also hoped to recruit more members for our new organization. Although our intentions for the event were great, we later realized that we had underestimated the amount of time and work that it would take to put on an event of this caliber. Our first struggle was finding an affordable space that could accommodate the amount of people that we had in mind. After finding a space that was available, we next attempted to solidify comedians who would be willing to volunteer their services. However, this proved to be a greater challenge than we had anticipated. Although we each knew of people who would be willing to help, most comedians wanted compensation for their services and transportation and those who did not, could not be available on such short notices. After being unable to solidify a comedian, we decided that to go back to the drawing board and change the idea for our event.

The Lupus Detroit Butterfly that was painted by all attendees

In the end, we decided that if we wanted to reach out to as many people as possible the
event would need to be free seeing as our organization’s name is not well-known on campus. In this aspect we had to start small. We realized that as a new organization we had to be realistic about the amount of people who would support our event and be grateful for the few that did. Our awareness event became a painting event and was held February 24 2018. This event was inspired by the stress of finals time and the importance of self care on Lupus patients. As a team we agreed that one of the most important aspects of recovery for Lupus patients is self care. This not only means taking medications and adhering to doctors’ recommendations, but doing things that you love and enjoy. Thus, we decided to hold an event that would help to relieve some stress. At the event, we first discussed lupus and what our goals as an organization were. Afterwards, we had a short mingling time where potential members could meet one another and discuss why they were interested in becoming a part of the organization. Lastly, we al participation in the painting of a purple butterfly with the purple color being symbolic of Lupus (purple is the color of the Lupus ribbon) and the butterfly being symbolic and peace, happiness, and freedom.

The event was successful, in that, we recruited a lot of new members and raised awareness about Lupus. Although the event did not turn out as planned and we did not have as many attendees as we’d hoped, we considered it a successful event as long as a few people were willing to join the fight for Lupus warriors with us! Next semester, we plan to increase the awareness of Lupus even more and with the money with earned from a previous bake sale event, we plan to create baskets for inpatient Lupus warriors and deliver them in hopes that they will brighten their day a little bit. Our next event will be a large wellness event that will feature massages, painting, yoga, and more. We have already begun planning this event so that we will not encounter the same obstacles as
with our first one!

By Sydni Williams

Sankofa: African Students Association 20th Annual Culture Show

On behalf of African Students Association (ASA), I want to deeply express my gratitude to BLI for the financial support of our 20th Annual Culture Show. The Akan word, Sankofa, which translates to, “go back and get it” was brought up by an ASA executive board member during one of the meetings, and served as a centerpiece for the theme of the show. Giselle Uwera, an ASA executive board member that served on the fashion, styling, and visuals committee for the show, described the show eloquently– “ Sankofa was a beautiful space for ASA to showcase so many different cultural aspects (fashion, dance & music) from all regions of the continent of Africa. With its theme of knowing one’s past and how it impacts one’s future, ASA told the story of a member of the African diaspora who is torn between their past, present, and future. Throughout the show, ASA’s goal was to make sure our audience followed the storyline that our [ASA] members relate to, and my favorite part was seeing the beautiful story brought to life in the form of Sankofa. ”

Sarah Samsundar and Jeremy Kwame posed in Ghanaian Kente cloth

One way this storyline unfolded was through a fashion show. This year, there were four scenes with clothing ranging from traditional to contemporary, from different countries. Members of the styling committee were intent on highlighting as many regions of the continent as possible. This year, 30 students were models, led by our two model coordinators and ASA executive board members, Megan Manu and Sophia Akatue. Megan and Sophia were in charge of holding model calls, planning walks, and running

Megan, one of the model coordinators and ASA’s secretary, had a few words to share regarding the show– “The culture show was definitely something to look forward to. We literally built the event up from the ground. Planning and executing the event became all of the executive board’s priority, sometimes even taking importance over school work… that’s how much the culture show meant to us. But I definitely want to emphasize how amazing the show turned out and how worth it was!”

Jade Kissi dancing her way down stage in wax print cloth.

Music, dance, and Spoken Word performances expressed our theme of reflection as well. This year, we had a Rwandan Dance group one of our members used to be a part of, perform, as well as the Sun Drummers, Amala Dancers and two students, Dania Harris and Arwa Gayar, with Spoken Word pieces. All the performances contributed to a collective energy in Crisler, one that I looked forward to taking part in for the second time, this year as an executive board member of ASA.

Jeremy Kwame, a freshman who modeled in the show reflected upon the show as well– “Participating in Sankofa, this year’s edition of the University of Michigan’s African Students Association’s Annual Cultural show, was one of the highlights of my first year. There was a creative ambiance to the show which encompassed a multitude of setting and eras from traditional to more liberal and contemporary. I believe this catered towards the interests of the different generations and diasporic backgrounds present”.

Rwandan Dance Group mid-performance.

The BLI Habit we utilized the most was, “Start Small”. Once we had the idea for the show, we had to contact performers, create many, many, to-do lists, contact and follow up with sponsors and performers, and finally, publicize the show! Starting small allowing us to not feel too overwhelmed, and reframed our ideas into tangible goals. For example, once we had the idea of a scene titled, “When I was,” dedicated to one’s past, we started small by collecting recordings of ASA members’ parents describing their life growing up on the continent and life lessons they had for their children. Then, our talented Arts director and Co-President, Jacklyn Thomas, cut the recordings together to serve as a background for the fashion show.

One BLI Habit we wish we could have utilized more during this experience was, “Expect Challenges”. The day of the show, that started at about 7am for some ASA members who set-up the stage at Crisler Center, there were many unforeseen challenges. One challenge included not clearly delegating people to table before the show to sell and collect tickets, as well as when to stop tabling. Many people arrived well into the show, yet we had already stopped tabling. Communication among members could have been improved as well.

Although, there were challenges, the BLI Habit “Pause and Reflect” allowed us to grow as an organization. First, we incorporated this habit within the show, by inviting past executive board members to walk with the current board in the final scene of the show. We wanted to reflect upon all the hard work previous boards have put into the organization and give these past members well-deserved recognition. Second, the next few meetings after the show were dedicated to discussing what went well, what didn’t go as planned, and how to improve for next year. Overall, we were extremely pleased with how the show came together, and are excited to see what the next executive board has in store for the 21st Annual Culture Show.

By Tosin Adeyemi

1 2 3 5