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.