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Optional Shucker capstone results in impassioned projects

Abbeyglen (Glen) Fulford ’26 presents “Colorful Connections” at Furman Engaged.

Last updated April 15, 2024

By Staff Report

By Louisa Brown ’24

In previous years, fellows in Furman University’s Shucker Center for Leadership Development were required to complete a capstone project as part of the program curriculum. The results were as varied as the level of commitment and dedication students could apply to the work.

Now for the first time, the project component is optional, so that fellows with the motivation, time to dedicate to a project, and the passion for the project, can commit to the endeavor, ensuring these projects achieve maximum impact in the community.

“The Shucker Capstone Scholar experience is a special opportunity that directly aligns with the Furman Advantage,” said Natalie Kindler, assistant director of the Shucker Center for Leadership Development. “We are thrilled to be able to give students an opportunity to apply their learning, step outside of their comfort zones and strengthen their leadership skills that they have developed throughout the course of our program.”

To support the Capstone Scholars, the Shucker Center provides a $500 stipend that can be used toward each project. Starting in January, the Scholars meet weekly to share their progress, receive feedback and hold each other accountable in finishing the project before the end of the spring semester.

This year, five students proposed project ideas related to a subject that they are passionate about, that fix a problem they see in the community. These five projects exemplify each student’s leadership through the way they take initiative, communicate professionally and problem solve in order to reach their goal.

Mary Katherine Lancaster ’26 and Mia Mantovani ’26 are creating a middle school readiness program for the local after-school non-profit, Neighborhood Focus. After volunteering there last semester, the pair noticed that several students were nervous about the transition from elementary to middle school. To help resolve this problem, Lancaster and Mantovani are creating a four-week curriculum and launching a school supply drive to help the students at Neighborhood Focus prepare for middle school physically, emotionally and academically.

Abbeyglen Fulford ’26 is partnering with the Greenville Queer Wellness Center, a local non-profit that provides resources for the queer community. She plans to create and lead a four-week curriculum that helps queer youth understand their identities through art. Fulford is using her background as a neuroscience major to design the curriculum by researching articles and meeting with her professors.

Paisley Gerasimovich ’25 is using her passion for education to design and facilitate a series of three events for students to learn about careers in education. Gerasimovich noticed that many students assume that education majors always become teachers, even though there are a variety of careers in the field. She is hoping to share the importance of studying education and to encourage more students to consider the major.

Chace Sledge ’26 is working on a program that will connect local high schoolers to professionals, so they can begin to explore potential career paths before college. Many students do not have the resources available to explore career options before college, which prevents them from making informed decisions about their post-graduation goals. Sledge hopes to reconcile this inequality by providing networking opportunities to local students.

The Capstone Scholars are not required to continue their project after this semester, but they hope that the legacy of their project will continue through its impact in the community, or through future Furman student leaders.

Louisa Brown ’24, a math and Spanish major from Greenville, South Carolina, will work for Bank of America as a global operations analyst in the Enterprise Transaction Services subdivision after graduation in May. Among other awards she won the Delaney Medal in Mathematics for the highest math GPA.

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