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Southern Virginia University

Q&A: FCD Seniors Serve Community through Capstone Project

April 23, 2015

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Every year, graduating seniors in the family and child development major execute senior capstone projects intended to both benefit the community and provide students with real-world experience and practical application of their education.

Daria Watts and Yvette Yanes, both seniors and family and child development majors, completed their capstone projects by presenting on the philosophy of the growth mindset to parents at a non-profit organization in Buena Vista, Va. I sat down with them to discuss their experiences with the project, their time at Southern Virginia, and their hopes for the future after walking at Commencement next month.

Q: What did you two do for your capstone project? Why did you choose to speak about the growth mindset?

Daria: The senior capstone project is picking a place and going and presenting something to them. There are papers along with it and a research paper you have to do to develop your understanding. First, you go to meet with the person in charge. And then you go, and you ask them what they think their parents or their participants would want to hear.

Yvette: We each took a subject that we particularly liked within the growth mindset and we did research and filled each other in. We wanted to be able to make the presentation very understandable for parents who have no idea what the growth mindset is, or the fixed mindset. And the person who was in charge of the organization [was] very willing and very excited to learn about what we had to say about it as family and child development majors.

IMG_7252Q: What do you hope the parents learned from your presentation on the growth mindset?

Daria: Well, [Buena Vista] doesn’t have a lot of resources, so the one point we wanted to get across to the parents was that their children could do [anything] they wanted to do.

We wanted them to understand that the way you think about yourself and the way you think about your actions can influence what you do with your life. So, if you think that you can practice and that you can get better at things, you’re going to.

Yvette: I personally hope that the parents are able to understand that even at their age right now they’re still able to develop a growth mindset and that just because you’re older than your 20s doesn’t mean you have to stop learning or stop developing these skills and talents and abilities. And from that, we hope that they were able to take away [the idea], “If I can still learn, then my children can continue to learn even more and improve even more.”

Q: Why did you choose to study family and child development? What do you hope to do with your degree once you’ve graduated?

Daria: I’ve always wanted to be a therapist for kids and families [and] parents who are having marital issues, like a family court appointed therapist. When I was younger, my parents [were] divorced. I did have to [go through] that, so I want to be a person who kids can trust. But now I’m leaning toward being a marriage therapist.

It relates to my family, and I want to just help people. My mom will just call me sometimes — I have an eight year old sister — and [my mom will] talk to me about a problem she might have with parenting. I can look at what I’ve been reading and share it, and she’ll be like “Whoa.” If it’s benefiting her, it can benefit everyone, because I think she did a good job with me.

IMG_7235Yvette: Initially I [wanted] to be a family lawyer, but within my major I started to have a fondness for wanting to help people in more of a social science area than from a legal perspective. I particularly want to go into counseling with at-risk teens because as a child — I’m from the D.C. area — I saw a lot of children struggling, a lot of teenagers struggling when they grew up.

And so that’s what influenced changing my mind from being a lawyer to wanting to be a counselor for teenagers and for women who have struggled with this before. And also I hope to just help within the world. That’s what our school is all about, you know, becoming leader-servants, and it has really influenced me [to want] to just make the world better in small ways.

Q: Is there a particular class or professor at Southern Virginia that has influenced you the most?

Daria: I would say Professor Rodriguez because he’s the head of the major, but also whenever he teaches, he gives examples and stories, and that’s what I relate to when I’m learning. And so, I’ll think of something, and I’ll think “[Dr.] Rodriguez solved it with this.” He’s really helped me understand the things that I’m learning. We go over it and explain it, and we learn how to apply it. That’s what we do in the major — [we] learn how to apply what [we’ve] read to help other people.

Yvette: The class that has influenced me the most was taught by Dr. Rodriguez [and] was “Adult Development and Aging.” The class taught me not only how adults continue to develop in every aspect but it taught me that it’s never too late to learn something. In other words, the more people learn or improve as they age, the more fun life becomes.

IMG_7229Q: What has been the most valuable part of your education at Southern Virginia? How do you think it will continue to affect you?

Daria: I definitely think — well, meeting my husband was pretty important — but I think having the small class sizes is one of my favorite things about [Southern Virginia].

I’m more outgoing now than I ever was in high school. I’m more involved than I ever thought I’d be. I’ve been involved in so much, and I think that’s helped me see that I can be involved and I can be a leader, but I can also be a follower. I can be beneficial to whatever situation I’m put in.

I also love that it’s LDS. I love the standards, and I love that [before a] class, we can say a prayer. In some classes, we say prayers before tests, and that really helps me out.

I definitely wouldn’t pick another school, doing it again. That’s for sure.

Yvette: Because we have such a small environment professors actually take time and want to take care of you and make sure that you as an individual are doing okay, that you are able to reach your potential. [Dr. Rodriguez] helps a lot in understanding “Okay, what do you really want to do and what do you really like and why are you studying this?”

I think that the small environment that we have is so perfect for us to find out who we are and what we want to do with our life. [And] we get the plus side of being in an LDS environment where you feel close to Heavenly Father, who also [plays] a huge part [in] finding out who you are, you know? Even if you’re not LDS, it really helps you understand, “Okay I’m this person, and I can grow within this particular area because I have professors who care about me, and I have this sense of why I’m here at Southern Virginia.”

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(Post by Madeleine Gail Rex ’16. Photos by Jordan Wunderlich ’16.)

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