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Senior Project Grants Students First Taste of Independence
May 22, 2015
Editor's note: Seniors Allison Jordan and Alexandra Schoellkopf spent their senior project working in various capacities for the Communications Department and in an array of marketing and publications areas. They chose to tell the story of the senior project experience through their peers' eyes as well as their own.


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Valedictorian Tejas Kashyap had never found success in the kitchen before his senior project. His life had always been centered around academics until he was given the opportunity to explore a new creative endeavor. Despite his prior mishaps in the kitchen that ranged from burning water to ruining cereal, Tejas chose to embark on a senior project which would test his abilities and force him into new situations.

Upon stepping into the Ahuja Medical Center,Tejas was quickly garmented in a chef’s coat and put to work in the hospital’s kitchen. There he worked with a diverse group of chefs who taught him all the basics he would need to survive at college, such as finally learning how to boil water and the correct way to use an oven. After becoming an honorary Chef, Tejas explains, “Although this may not be my intended career path, I’m still learning valuable skills I’ll need in the future.”

Tejas is just one of many seniors who took advantage of an opportunity to explore their own educational interests. Senior project allows students to use their last four weeks of high school in order to pursue an interest of their choice. Although this seems simple enough, seniors spend countless hours, starting in September, creating their perfect proposal. Students and teachers work together in order to design a project which will be both educational and enjoyable. Students this year have truly shown their diverse interests by selecting creative new projects such as assisting elementary school teachers and students, training for jiu-jitsu, volunteering for humane societies, interning at NASA, and exploring nature centers.

Several of Tejas’ classmates explored a sweeter side of the culinary spectrum. Every day at the crack of dawn (which is about 9 a.m for most seniors) two brilliant bakers awoke, ready to tackle a day of measuring ingredients and mixing batter at Sugar Me Desserterie. Clare Ubersax and Melissa Ma used senior project as a justification to indulge their sweet tooth (but also learn of course!). The dynamic duo faced a whirlwind of new experiences, including baking hundreds of cookies and decorating a seemingly endless supply of desserts. Besides the perk of sneaking the occasional cookie, the two learned how to successfully run a small business and explore the logistics that happen behind the scenes.

“Our senior project truly allowed us to combine a fun hobby with an educational pursuit,” explained Ubersax and Ma.

From Pastries to Patients

Imagine waking up early every morning, putting on business attire, and driving through bumper to bumper morning traffic to get to work downtown. Now, imagine doing all this at the age of 18. According to seniors Kenny Seifert, Brooke Insler, and Jordan Brown, this has been a dream come true.

“Working in the Cleveland Clinic’s Global Patient Services center has truly been an amazing and rewarding experience. Every day we are exposed to patients and staff from all over the world. Working alongside people from different ethnic backgrounds has shown us that similar values and work ethics transcend geographical barriers, something truly eye opening,” noted Brown.

Brown and Insler have both been interested in international relations and as a result decided to work on the Global Patient Services plus program offered by the International Operations department of the hospital. This program strives to create a comfortable and stress-free atmosphere for international patients and their families. Both students’ valuable input is being utilized by the Cleveland Clinic staff who hope make improvements to the already thriving program.

Tackling a different a side of patient care is student Kenny Seifert, who worked in the anesthesiology department of the Cleveland Clinic. His day-to-day activities varied from shadowing residents to observing patients, from preoperative care to the end of their procedure. Just as many ambitious teenagers, Kenny, too, hopes to pursue a future in the medical profession.

“Doing my senior project on my intended career path has really helped me decide what I want to do in the future. This has been somewhat of a test-run for me to see if I’d really like working in anesthesia, so it’s been really helpful,” said Seifert.

Other seniors chose to stay close to home and revisit the comforting hallways of Moreland Hills Elementary, from a different vantage point. Future teacher Jordan Wade looked forward to spending her senior project assisting 4th grade teacher Mrs. Elana Blake ever since she worked with her through the program Mentoring at Moreland. Jordan, who loves encouraging young learners to strive for excellence, works both individually with students and assists the class as a whole.

“My favorite part of senior project is feeling as though I am making a beneficial difference in the lives of these students,” noted Wade.

These seven students serve as exemplary models of the 159 seniors who have all worked hard to make the most out of their last four weeks of high school.

On a Personal Note

“Speaking personally, this experience turned out to be far more beneficial than I ever expected,” noted senior Alexandra Schoellkopf. “The work that we did was valuable and useful and it’s nice to see it paying off through tangible evidence on the school’s website and Facebook page.”

Jordan agreed.

“Going into this project, I wasn’t even thinking about journalism as a possible career,” she said. “Senior project has changed my whole perspective on the endless possibilities my future holds.”

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