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A look at the impact of our master degree programs in NH and beyond!

Graduate students in the classroom

They’re protecting the natural resources in your neighborhood. They’re finding the right leadership prescription for today’s every-changing healthcare industry. They’re community champions who help connect young people to leadership opportunities.

These are the students in our graduate programs and this is how they are making an impact in New Hampshire and beyond! Last week, the College community got to experience this impact when more than a dozen graduate students shared their Project Management and Leadership capstone projects.

In our graduate programs, the capstone course is where our students really shine. When you become a student, it’s the last course you’ll take before graduating and it gives you the opportunity to apply what you’ve learned in a project that’s relevant to your world. The topics are personal—you can focus your work on a passion, future aspirations, or a project that holds importance in your career. For many, the experience is a catalyst. It’s what helps you connect your journey as a graduate student to the next big thing.

Sitting among the instructors, mentors, family, and friends in the audience, it’s clear that you’re witnessing a “big moment,” so we were compelled to share!

Here’s a summary of the Spring 2015 M.S. Capstone presentations and a interesting facts and take-aways we learned from their projects:

Eric Barrett, M.S. in Project Management
Science DMZ
In a research-rich workplace, being able to share data quickly is essential. Eric Barrett helped create a network that can make direct connections to transfer sizable amounts of data at a rapid pace. Upon project completion, this solution will help researchers save money, time, and resources on their important projects.

Defining success
Thinking of the Triple Constraint of time, budget, and scope, Eric considers the scope of the project to be the most important factor in defining its.

Pamela Doherty, M.S. in Project Management
Master Gardener State Wide Speakers Bureau
Pamela Doherty helps bring horticultural information to New Hampshire’s communities through her work at the UNH Cooperative Extension. More than 3,000 volunteers extend the work by conducting educational sessions throughout the granite state. Pamela’s capstone focused on a volunteer development program that can help volunteers further develop their presentation skills.

Pro tips
Pamela’s advice was to start small with your projects… and pamper your volunteers with good food and fun trainings!

Louise Dube, M.S. in Project Management
Workforce Management: Software Development Project
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center was looking for a solution that could help them analyze their large workforce and assess the organization’s HR needs. As an IT Manager with PMI – PMP certification, Louise Dube was entrusted with this ambitious software development project, which she chronicled in her capstone.

When a project is a huge undertaking, Louise emphasized accuracy when estimating the required resources and timelines. Being able to convey realistic expectations can help you demonstrate the need for more support when discussing the project with the c-level executives.

James Edgell, M.S. in Project Management
Development of a Social Franchising Center
Recently the University of New Hampshire launched a stand-alone Social Franchising Initiative (SFI). It seeks to further the development of social franchising as a viable social franchising business model. In his capstone, James worked with subject matter experts to build the vision and launch the initiative.

“Embrace culture and plan for change.”

Kevin Flynn, M.S. in Project Management
Flynn Fence and Deck Project
Kevin Flynn applies the principles of project management in his career as a financial advisor. Kevin demonstrated the versatility of these skills when he applied them to a personal project, outside of his industry. In his capstone, Kevin designed and executed a three-stage remodeling project for a residential property.

Best practice
Kevin made a point of developing close relationships with the work crew and contractors. This not only fostered a positive work environment, it led to more open discussions when there were challenges to address.

Sara Grady, M.S. in Leadership
#change: A Second Look at Student Involvement Theory
Sara Grady can see the ways that technology and social media influence traditional college students through her position as a residential director at Plymouth State University. She can see how traditional engagement techniques are becoming less relevant to college students. Most importantly, Sara sees the opportunity for #change. Her capstone explored the need to evolve, adapt, and integrate the student engagement theory.

What surprising knowledge did you gain through your capstone experience?
“Be approachable. Be authentic. It will help with all of your leadership goals.”

Paul Hodgdon, M.S. in Project Management
Funding the Cub Scouts
Between fundraising, paying for outings, and other activities, keeping track of which Cub Scout has what money presents a booking challenge. As the Troop leader, Paul Hodgdon used his IT experience and project management skills to find a solution. His capstone sought to create an online app to centralize and streamline the entire troop’s fundraising efforts.

Lesson learned
Timing matters. Paul recommends scheduling your rollout at a time of year that’s convenient for your organization.

JoAnna Jaskolka, M.S. in Leadership
Healthcare Leadership Needs a New Prescription
JoAnna works for an organization that helps health systems maintain and enhance their quality, amidst healthcare’s rapid changes. Her capstone created a call-to-action to her industry. JoAnna advocates for a transformational leadership approach which will help the industry thrive as it evolves.

Most valued course
“Leading teams. Regardless of the scope of the project, you need to keep people involved and excited about what they’re doing.”

Candy King, M.S. in Project Management
Spring Registration Events
Candy wanted to find innovative ways to connect parents and students to the spring registration events at Colby-Sawyer College. She used her capstone as an extensive study on two events: Accepted Student Day and The Summer Picnic Event.

Lesson learned
“Document, document, document. You need the lessons learned to refer back to so you can see continued success year-to-year.”

Andrew Lathrop, M.S. in Project Management
IT Services Relocation
What do you do when technology that services staff throughout North America needs to be moved to a new facility? This was the challenge Andrew faced and his goal was to minimize any and all downtime during this process. Andrew’s helped the company move the server to an offsite location. This solution offered better security and a more efficient environment.

What surprising knowledge did you gain through your capstone experience?
“There’s no right way and no wrong way to approach a project. Be open to the multiple ways you can manage projects. You could find a way to make it better.”

Erika Liljestrand, M.S. in Project Management
Summer Conservation Project
Every summer, the Colorado Mile High Youth Corps is busy maintaining the trails, protecting the natural resources, and making improvements at regional parks. Erika leads groups of young adults through this experience, exposing them to career development and leadership opportunities. She used her capstone to connect project management essentials to these conservation projects.

How will you use the knowledge beyond your graduate program?
“Learning the different tools and project management terms really helped me become better at organizing my projects. Before, I had my own system. Today, I feel like I can jump in on conversations with any project managers.”

Amanda Moore, M.S. in Leadership
Optimal Leadership Models to Successfully Influence Change in a Healthcare Organization
In her work as an HR professional in the healthcare industry, Amanda is interested in finding leadership models that can thrive during rapid change. Amanda recognizes that people process change in different ways and through her capstone, she explored Leadership models that can minimize stress among employees and encourage change readiness throughout the organization.

Offering a perspective
To help illustrate an environment of change, Amanda incorporated a clip about leading change from the movie “Remember the Titans.” 

Robert Robinson, M.S. in Project Management
Cohas Brook Sewer Project – Contract No. 3
City projects that intersect with the environment require an advance level of skills and attention. Robert manages sewer infrastructure projects and when one such project focused on an area near Lake Massabesic and Cohas Brook Watersheds, it was a major undertaking. Robert’s capstone provided insight into how project management principles are used in this setting.

Bringing the audience on-site
Typical of a regular work day, Robert began his presentation by putting on his hard hat and then got into the details of the project.

Larry Scola, M.S. in Project Management
Waste Water Treatment Plant Project
Larry works for an innovative company that has created a unique brand of electro-hydraulic products and technology. With experience in the maritime industry, Larry saw the opportunity to introduce this technology to waste water treatment plants located on maritime college campuses. His capstone covered the creation of a successful partnership and new account with his undergraduate alma mater, Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

Even when you switch industries, your experience is always an asset. The success of the project can be attributed to Larry’s roots in the maritime industry.

Justine Stadler, M.S. in Project Management
Developing a Collaborative Project Tool Kit
Justine’s work aims to bring members of the community together with scientists to address coastal wild life. Collaboration is key and in her capstone, Justine created a tool kit of best practices, case studies, interactive tools, and project management templates to help future collaborative teams communicate successfully.

The tool kit that Justine created recommends online tools like Google Docs and Basecamp, but she also suggests weekly phone calls to make sure that everything that’s discussed online is understood.

The capstone projects represent a transformation. Students transform into graduates. They develop skills and grow as leaders and managers.

They take their next step and work to transform their community, their industries, and themselves. With their masters in project management or masters of leadership complete, our graduates are making a difference with their master degree programs in NH and beyond!


Click here to download M.S. Undecided:  a guide to select the right graduate program