Seniors shared their experiences with capstones this year


Lena Sugrue

Seniors Julia Chow and Serafina Carlucci work on their group aquaponics capstone project.

By Cooper Tenney

Helena Curry and Miles Keeffe have centered their partner capstone project around developing and advancing the Kwentyn Wiggins Scholarship.

“Since we were both close with [Kwentyn], we knew right away that this project would be a great way to keep Kwentyn’s spirit alive at Branson through the awareness of financial aid and scholarship,” said Curry.

The Kwentyn Wiggins Scholarship Fund provides financial assistance to one student each year who otherwise could not afford to attend Branson.

The scholarship honors, commemorates and reminds us of Kwentyn’s “deep love, community pride, dedication, and intellectual growth,” according to the Branson website.

As part of their capstone, Keeffe and Curry will be launching a social media campaign on Day of Giving, which will fall on Dec. 1 this year, as well as a video with clips from interviews that they are holding. This campaign will promote the scholarship and encourage alumni to donate to the cause. All proceeds from the video product will be sold at Branson and go directly to the Scholarship Fund.

“The best part of the capstone project has been working together and knowing that the work we are doing is going to have a great impact on our community,” said Curry. “It is very fulfilling to work on a project that is centered around bringing more kids to Branson and promoting the importance of financial aid.”

Keeffe also remarked on what makes this project enjoyable.

“I enjoy this project because it allows me to carry on my close friend’s legacy, and also make a difference in not only our Branson community but also in our larger community in this county,” he said.

The capstone holds so much meaning to both Keeffe and Curry because of how close they were to Wiggins.

“Miles and I are both very driven and determined to accomplish the goals we set out before the project, which has created a great working dynamic,” Curry said.

Madeline Folkers has been a veterinary intern at West Marin Pet Hospital, a clinic in Fairfax.

She attends the clinic from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. twice a week. Throughout the day, Folkers observes and shadows tasks that include appointments in the exam room, blood draws, vaccinations and surgeries.

“At the moment I mostly shadow the two vet techs and lead veterinarian throughout the day, although I’ve been helping restrain docile animals and will start doing that more along with preliminary tasks such as handling needles/vaccines, nail trims, etc later in my capstone,” said Folkers.

Since everyone at West Marin Pet Hospital is fully vaccinated, the internship is in-person. Folkers noted how close-knit and collaborative the environment is at the clinic.

“I’ve never worked this closely with professionals in pet health so the learning curve has been steep, yet eye-opening at the same time,” said Folkers. “… This project has inspired me to pursue animal science more actively and I look forward to completing my Capstone in the upcoming weeks.”

Folkers will also continue her study of veterinary medicine. Her presentation will involve a more specific topic of interest, as well as research around preventing cancer and sickness in animals.

Julia Chow, Hodges Day and Serafina Carlucci are currently building an aquaponics system at Golestan Preschool in El Cerrito for their Capstone.

“Aquaponics is a sustainable method of raising both fish and vegetables,” according to

The system of aquaponics mimics a natural ecosystem. Fish are raised in water that is purified by plants. The plants benefit from natural fertilization produced by the fish. Aquaponics can be used to raise fresh fish and vegetables and provide education in schools about natural ecosystems.

“I enjoy that our project will have a tangible creation by the end of the 4 weeks. It is also nice that the Golestan community can use the aquaponics system for years to come,” said Chow.

Seniors can choose to either work alone or with a group. Chow, Day and Carlucci have all been fully vaccinated and physically go to Golestan Preschool three times per week.

“I think working in a group has really benefited our project,” said Chow. “It is a lot of hands-on work, so it is nice to have other people helping you move things, cut things, etc. Also, it is good to get multiple perspectives and ideas when designing a system.”