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New business capstone offers seniors real-world experience

At Portland State, student work doesn't disappear when classes end. Through capstone projects, seniors apply academics to real-life organizations, often offering lasting value to community partners.

This year, the School of Business Administration developed its own capstone aimed at giving students more opportunities to work with local businesses and nonprofits. One example is Super Project Lab Youth, which uses improv to teach life skills to at-risk youth.

Participating in the capstone allowed executive director Shelley Darcy "to teach improv and let PSU run the business side," she says. The student teams created a five-year strategic plan, analyzed its financial operations, researched evidence supporting its mission, and more.

"Now, we have this newfound direction for our organization," Darcy says.

The business capstone started with a single pilot class a year ago and expanded to nine sections of 35 students this spring. All 750 business seniors must take the class to graduate. Like all capstones, the business class was designed to establish community connections, develop problem-solving strategies, and expose students to a range of fields.

Senior Jeffrey Adams says his business capstone experience taught him how to deliver tough news to organization leaders. "The right decision is not always the one you wanted to hear," he says. "In the end, we were all richer for it."

Each May, Portland State hosts the Capstone Fair to give students, faculty, and community members a chance to meet with Capstone instructors to learn about courses for the following summer and academic year.

This year, the Capstone Fair will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 1 in Smith Memorial Student Union 327, 328, and 329.

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University Studies hosts the Fair and can be contacted at 503-725-5890.