When it comes to preparing graduates to transform society, the senior capstone project is one of the elements that sets Newman University apart.
Every semester, a mix of juniors and seniors complete their capstone projects, which serve as the culmination of a student’s studies at Newman. Capstone projects are unique to each student and take on various forms, including but not limited to live research-based presentations, special performances and collaborative service projects.
The following seniors created capstone projects as part of their ASC Service Award scholarship.
The ASC Service Award is named for and sponsored by the founders of Newman, the Adorers of the Blood of Christ (ASC), and is designed to enhance the servant leadership skills of students who enter the program. By the time an ASC Scholar graduates from Newman, he or she will have dedicated at least 360 hours of their time to volunteer service.
Read on to discover what each project meant to the senior who organized it, in his or her own words.
Aliyah Reeves hosted a book collection for kindergarteners at Oaklawn Elementary
Aliyah Reeves is a senior majoring in biology and minoring in communication and plans to graduate in May.
“For my capstone project, I chose to collect reading and coloring books for the entire kindergarten class at a low-income elementary school. I collected enough items for 40 kindergarteners to receive one reading book, one coloring book and a box of crayons. When dropping off the donations that I collected, I passed out the items to the kids and had a snack and story time with them. I chose to do this project because I love kids and hope that one day I will be able to work with kids as a health care professional.”
“I was glad to be able to make a difference in so many students’ lives by showing one simple act of kindness. I think it is important to be thankful for what we have because there are so many less fortunate people in the world. I am glad to be able to do my part and live up to the Newman mission statement.”
Marissa Feshour creates gift baskets for clients entering Harbor House
Marissa Freshour is a senior double majoring in criminal justice and psychology with a minor in sociology. After graduating in May, she plans to pursue her master’s in social work.
“I was a volunteer at the Catholic Charities Harbor House (a domestic violence shelter in Wichita) for a good year, and I noticed that they did not have as many donations as expected.”
“I was inspired to work with Harbor House because I have lived in a household where domestic violence was a reoccurring event. My father was very abusive to my mother and with the events of domestic violence, my whole family spiraled out of control. I wasn’t able to have a childhood, and with this, I wanted to make welcome baskets for families or people entering or exiting Harbor House. I ended up making 24 baskets worth of towels, toothbrushes and toothpaste, body wash, shampoo and conditioner, as well as stuffed animals, books, coloring books and crayons and other necessities for families who are getting back on their feet outside of the shelter or who just entered.”
“I know what it’s like to not have the basic necessities in life and I know what it’s like to not feel supported. Therefore I chose to support and uplift the families at Harbor House by providing them with their basic necessities so they can focus on other things in life.”
“I am very thankful for the experience and I was able to see the transformation that I made on the families. When I brought them in there were two moms with their kids and I was able to give them each a stuffed animal. The moms were about to cry with joy and the kids were jumping around and squeezing their stuffed animals so right. It was truly the most beautiful thing I’ve seen.”
Amy Ponce prepares classroom baskets for Heartspring
Amy Ponce will graduate in May 2023 as a first-generation student from a Mexican household. Her degrees are a bachelor’s in organizational leadership, two minors in communication and criminal justice, and lastly, a certificate in leadership.
“What inspired me to choose Heartspring as my capstone project is my work with schools. As an ASC scholar, most of my community service of almost more than 300 hours is for schools and I like using my leadership skills to give a helping hand. When I did Heartspring, it was a calling because special needs kids aren’t talked about enough and I wanted to give something back with supplies they use to learn skills. The most exciting part was learning about Squishmallows. Thanks to my friends Marissa Freshour and Casey Mowery from my job, I was able to gather 24 of the Squishmallows, and Deseray Cruz helped donate learning toys for kids.”
“With more than 70 items gathered, I was able to do more than 10 baskets — enough for every classroom at Heartspring. They were more than happy to receive the donation and I was honored with a T-shirt and much more. I hope to continue my work with Heartspring in the future.”
“I want to thank all those who donated towards my cause: family, friends and especially my close friends Desaray Cruz and Marissa Freshour who helped make the basket. Also a big thanks to Sister Patty, ASC, who allowed me to use the basement of the Landing.”
Jenny Duong organizes neighborhood cleanup
Jenny Duong, a biology major, led a civic project to clean up a neighborhood of Wichita. Her project served residents of the neighborhood who are financially challenged and unable to afford trash removal and large items for the dump.
“My capstone project is called the Neighborhood Cleanup, which is an event hosted by the City of Wichita to help underserved neighborhoods declutter. Dumpsters, trucks and packers are provided by the city, and residents in a neighborhood place any unwanted items on the curb and volunteers pick them up.”
“This event is very beneficial to underserved communities because it can save the residents time, money and stress. Renting the packer trucks is extremely expensive and if the residents would like to take their unwanted items to the dump, it is also expensive as it is weighed by a certain amount per pound. For those that are elderly, disabled or lack a vehicle, decluttering can be very difficult. By relieving the people of these stresses, we can help the environment and help residents to live in a safer and cleaner environment.”
“I was inspired to host this event when I first participated in my first neighborhood cleanup when I was on the County Commissioner Citizens Advisory Board. I saw the amount of waste the residents brought and how much it helped them. Residents were grateful for the opportunity and it really helped clean the area, making it look nicer. Rebecca Field is the person in charge of this event and she told me how a neighborhood called the Elm Neighborhood has not had a cleanup in years because their organizers passed away, thus I wanted to help this neighborhood and provide this opportunity for the Elm residents as well as give Newman students a chance to be involved in the community.”
Abigail Meza hosts mindfulness events at Wichita Family Crisis Center
Senior Abigail Meza is a psychology and criminal justice double major. Inspired by her regular volunteer work at the Wichita Family Crisis Center, she held two rock painting events — one for children and one for staff.
“My aim was to impact the lives of children, especially those living in unfavorable circumstances. I worked with the nonprofit organization, the Wichita Family & Crisis Center, which helps keep victims safe from domestic and sexual abuse as well as human trafficking.”
“I organized a gratitude rock painting activity at the facility that would invite children and their guardians staying at the shelter to join. The activity’s purpose was to encourage individuals to think positively by finding aspects in their lives that they were grateful to have. As a psychology major, I applied my skills and knowledge about positive therapy to create an activity that could help improve an individual’s mood and overall mental health. Rock painting is a form of art therapy that helps reduce stress and anxiety and allows individuals to express creativity.”
“I chose to center my project on gratitude because it significantly affects our overall well-being. Gratitude is one of many positive emotions. It typically involves being thankful and appreciative. People can become accustomed to taking many things in life for granted, such as having a healthy body, food to eat, clean water to drink, or fresh air to breathe. Gratitude encourages releasing more positive emotions, improves overall health, helps people enjoy good experiences, manage hardships and build more significant relationships.”
“I hope my project was able to create a positive experience and memory in the children’s minds.”
Peyton Wayman collects stuffed animals for patients at Wesley Medical Center
Peyton Wayman, a nursing student who graduated in December 2022, worked at Wesley for his pediatric experience and noticed children responding to these toys when they needed comfort in the pediatric unit.
“I was inspired after seeing a hockey team do a teddy bear toss where they had fans throw stuffed animals onto the ice and then they donated all the stuffed animals to a local pediatric hospital. I gathered my materials by setting up drop boxes at local businesses in Mulvane, then having a table set up at a high school football game where people could come donate items they had bought or I accepted cash donations to go buy more items after the fact. I then split up the items and delivered them to the pediatric units in Wichita.”
“I was able to fundraise 122 stuffed animals, 107 coloring books, 184 different boxes of coloring utensils, as well as many other items children could use to make their stay easier.”
The following students also organized capstone projects as part of their ASC Service Award.
- Angela Tran hosted a hygiene item drive for St. Anthony’s Family Shelter and successfully collected $300 worth of items.
- Alizza Robles developed and led activities for 15 students of the latchkey program at St. Patrick’s Elementary School.
- Britney Ma prepared welcome bags with items needed for classroom success as part of the Hispanic-Serving Institution initiative at Newman for new Hispanic students. She also is working toward a minor in Spanish.
- Daniela Renteria and Alyssa Pham both decided to make rosaries and distribute them to different groups. Renteria is a teacher for the confirmation class at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and this was her initial group. Pham also created a video that showed her process of creating handmaid rosaries.
- Peter Nguyen partnered with the Dugan Library to make textbooks more accessible to financially challenged students. The books, contributed by Newman students, may be checked out by a student for the semester in lieu of buying one.
- Fatima Ortiz prepared gift bags for the students who frequent the Wichita Youth Center near North High School and delivered them for the holidays.
$17,500 ASC Service Award
Named for and sponsored by the founders of Newman University, the Adorers of the Blood of Christ (ASC) sisters, the ASC Service Award and corresponding program are designed to enhance the servant leadership skills of students who demonstrate a commitment to civic engagement.