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Senior Spirals


This past week, I had the honor of presenting my senior capstone project, pranking my esteemed, well-respected professor.


At first glance, some may not classify the work myself and my fellow accomplices completed as deserving of the title “undergraduate dissertation.” However, I’d argue I comprehensively articulated my social work studies into praxis, with a dream, a budget of $20, and 1,700 mini plastic rainbow babies. So, to those who have asked me, “was this really your summative academic accomplishment?” I say, this is group work. This is community building. 


I’d love to share an outline of my project now, not only to prove my integration of course learning into a hands-on experience but, in the spirit of participatory action research, to give back to the community that generated this knowledge base, so my fellow seniors can have steps to follow if they choose to construct a capstone project of their own. 


Step 1: Choose the object of your prank wisely. As a future social worker, I can acknowledge appropriate boundaries and relevant ethical principles in practice, so I will add here a warning to select a professor, staff member, or peer carefully. 


Step 2: Don’t be hasty; create a timeline. Writing this prank guide now, I sit beside two stressed religion majors finalizing 40-page dissertations they have been revising since January, and I think to myself, “Wow, do I know what they are going through!” – I allotted four weeks for maximum preparation.


Step 3: Coalition build. Crucial to the social work profession is facilitating community action by seeking consensus toward a unifying vision. Luckily for my pranking partner in crime and me, our pranking object is well-known for her witty shenanigans alongside her skillful leadership, so this step proved relatively easy as generating buy-in to sending 1,700 mini babies her way didn’t take much effort. 


Step 4: Execute. Gather the pranking team and act fast!


Step 5: Cope with post-prank worries. Having done my fair share of shortsheeting, post-it noting entire rooms, and the occasional weaving a 100-meter string through every object in my friend’s room, I am no stranger to post-prank nerves. This capstone project was no exception to this rule, and I was grateful to implement my emotional regulation skills while relying on my social work peers for consultation when I began to spiral.


Step 6: Reflect and evaluate. With evaluation of practice being paramount in the field of social work, it was important for our team of six pranksters to assess feedback and recognize the joy our scheming created – both for the professor, who now has a rainbow baby necklace and for the hill, which now holds more mini babies than ever before, and life is better because of it.

Carter Puckett
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